The ritual around replica: From replicated works of art to art as replica (part II)

Lucio Angelo Privitello


A short version of this paper was presented as a seven minute Video at the AIC ‘Objects Group’ meeting. Then, as now, my aim was to raise questions on the conceptual status of a replica, and allow a glimpse at theoretical implications if such questions were more fully pursued.

A replica is an excitable object. A replica comes to the philosophical questions of the ‘Being’ and ‘Time’ of originality stripped of its romanticism, its Sturm und Drang. An original holds fast against having its ‘cue’ {entrée réplique) uncovered. A ‘replica’, by definition and by acting on a ‘cue,’ questions the ‘thing-in-itself thought to be hidden within the spaces of an ‘original’s’ miraculous escape from exchange. A replica enters the economy of exchange historicised and fully conscious, whereas an original hides this exchange that dwells as its unconscious debt. Within that space the replica vibrates, therein it is excitable, and from within that space the replica takes the place where nine-tenths of the idea of the idea of original ‘property’ is put into question. Yet, a replica persists in possessing a property of what it signifies, while questioning the solipsism of art’s historical-philosophical ‘truth,’ as the above epigram from Adorno states. Is the ‘truth’ of art that it is a replication? And if replication is a kind of repetition, is it, as Kierkegaard thought, a place “when ideality and reality touch each other” (Kierkegaard 1983: 275)? In a way, a replica is a perpetuation of the original as a ritual and ceremony. A replica is an invested and saturated point of the ceremony of the life-history of an original. It is, as Kierkegaard felt a ‘forward recollection’ (Kierkegaard 1983:131).

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2000 | Philadelphia | Volume 7