By and Between (after Bernd and Hilla Becher)

Carey Young
2013
Black and white photographs, vinyl text

Commissioned by Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich

 

By and Between (after Bernd and Hilla Becher) (2013) is a photo/text piece which incorporates an original, unique, iconic, borrowed work by Bernd and Hilla Becher: Gasbehälter Zeche Concordia, Oberhausen. D. 1969, which consists of two black and white photographs of an empty and full gas tank. With the consent of Hilla Becher, a duplicate of the work was made by a specialist photographic technician, and the resulting print was framed by the Bechers' usual framer in Düsseldorf.

The original Becher work and its copy hang side by side, more or less indistinguishable, together with a wall text consisting of a found selection of ‘doublets’ - legal pairs of words such as ‘null and void’, 'do and perform', ‘final and conclusive’ - which are used by Anglophone lawyers to add emphasis and nuance through repetition, but are also possibly redundantly repetitious.

At its simplest level the piece offers a guessing game as to which is original and copy, yet through the text, questions are posed about the value and role of appropriation in art. The piece refers to Sherrie Levine and also makes indirect reference to the notable but contested claims of copyright infringement around appropriation in art. Here, instead of being a mechanism to restrict creativity, law here is as a freeing device, a method to suggest multiple interpretations of an apparently simple act of appropriation and homage.