Paying One's Dues: refiguring agency, authenticity and originality

Marriner, R (2005) Paying One's Dues: refiguring agency, authenticity and originality. In: Predicaments in Visual Culture: Theorising Creativity, Watershed, Bristol.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)

The paper revisits Barthes' 'Death of the Author' to argue that, despite its title, the way it was read in certain circles. and what it gave rise to in the art world, - from the mid Eighties a raft of works that in various ways 'iterated a critique of authorship' - we should remember that the essay (and its companion piece 'From Work to Text') is less an argument for ridding works of their maker than the advocacy of a certain kind of maker and making. By its conclusion Barthes promotes a (modernist) self-reflexive practice that draws attention to its own textuality (signifiers) in opposition to one that effaces its own workings, privileging the 'text' in favour of the 'work', and the 'scriptor' in favour of the 'author' as 'agent'. Whilst seeing much of that argument as a corrective to the more romantic ideas of agency this paper claims Barthes' final advocacy is problematic. Having emphasised throughout (from Saussure) that meaning is relational, (stressed inter-relatedness and inter-textuality), there is an inconsistency in positing self-reference as a strategy through which that condition of meaning can be disclosed; such an advocacy has also made it difficult within artistic practice to see a way to go beyond the critique.

The paper then examine works by two artists who can be read as having taken the critique of authorship seriously but moved beyond its reiteration as their subject matter. In Chris Ofili's and Ruben Ortiz Torres' practice we have works which draw attention to their textuality -'signifiers' - , but as a way of acknowledging their relatedness and beholden-ness to other works in how and what 'speak'. In so doing they can be read as offering a refiguring of the spaces of agency, authenticity, and originality.

Divisions: Bath School of Design
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2012 04:45
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:32
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