Richard Prince
[Artist, b. 1949, Panama Canal Zone, lives in New York.]

 Advertising images aren’t associated with an author. It’s as if their presence were complete—classical in fact. They are too good to be true. They look like they have no history to them—like they showed up all at once. They look like what art always wants to look like. 
 Is passion what we are? Is that what we are in pictures? Is what we are in pictures almost real? Maybe it’s become the “most” real thing. 
 If a picture was once worth a thousand words, one square inch of an image is now worth 360,000 bytes of computer storage space. 
 I got a job in the tear-sheets department, ripping up magazines like People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Time, and delivering the editorial pages.... So I began to use a camera to make fake photographs of the ads. By re-photographing a magazine page and then developing the film in a cheap lab, the photos came out very strange. 
 It would be strange for me to think I’m being ripped off, because that’s what I do! In those days, it was called “pirating.” Now they call it “sampling.” 
 I don’t see any difference now between what I collect and what I make. It’s become the same. What I’m collecting will, a lot of times, end up in my work. 
 The good thing about the money coming in is it allows me to experiment and make more mistakes and gives me more time to think about work that I’m not sure about. 
 ... rather than tear [advertising photographs] out of the magazines and paste them up on a board, I thought why not re-photograph them with a camera and then put them in a real frame with a mat board around the picture just like a real photograph and call them mine. I mean “pirate” them, “steal” them, “sample” them. 
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