Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fright night

For at least five years it's as though Dane Mitchell has been stalked by another artist. It’s the horror film scenario. First off you just catch a quick glimpse of something at the window. 'Was that one of my works?' (cue unsettling music). Later, flicking through an art mag, there's a sudden, heart-stopping sound as a deep shadow blacks out the page. 'That’s a work I made ten years ago!' (shivering violins). Initially it was reasonable to pass it off as global zeitgeist thing (after all, ideas are seldom unique) but when the echoes turn up in production, look and feel, scale, it gets harder to accept as coincidence. So what can be done? Not much as it turns out. Despite discussion the other artist refuses to acknowledge the takes and keeps on going. Legal redress across borders is of course complex, expensive and out of the question.

And now it’s happening again, this time with a different artist. Visitors to Art Basel Hong Kong who know Dane Mitchell’s work will see a familiar face, well a familiar sculpture actually. The Polish artist Alicja Kwade’s work is more than just a close call (is Mitchell some sort of flypaper for lookalikes?) the two rings are not only in a Venn diagram arrangement but have exactly the same dimensions and lean against the wall like the Mitchell work. It was first exhibited in his 2014 at Hopmoss show Other explications, in LA the same year and Switzerland in 2015. In the end the implicit system of art making and influence relies on good citizenship. Well, that didn’t seem to work.

Images: top, Dane Mitchell 2014 and bottom, Alicja Kwade 2016