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this painting is not available in your country

The painting titled 'This painting is not available in your country' by Paul Mutant satirizes copyright restrictions and geoblocking in particular. Like a Magritte for the digital age, it also cleverly plays with the reproducibility of art and the changed relationship between "original" and "copies".

This painting is not available in your country - Paul Mutant

To flesh this out a bit, its self-referential statement is both true and not true on several different levels, creating interesting paradoxes. Where 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' pointed out the difference between an object and its representation, 'Not available' is about different shades of representation in what Baudrillard called hyperreality, which takes place entirely in the realm of representations.

First of all, the work is a representation, not of a real-world object, but of a statement from the digital world, familiar to everyone who listens to music or watches films online. Thus it is a representation of a representation, but a digital representation brought back to the physical world.

Also (assuming this actually is a real painting and not a digital creation), the work is a physical object, an original, which can't be copied in the sense that its physicality - of paint on a canvas - is unique. Here the work's statement creates an obvious paradox, precisely because it suggests there are copies. (Blocked availability still implies their existence...)

On another level, in the digital world the usual response to a geoblock is a) frustration, and b) to find a work-around to access the work you were looking for. In this case, the work invites you to dwell on this frustration until you realize that this is it. What you see is what you get. In other words, there is no real pipe blocked by the statement on the canvas.

But perhaps the greatest irony lies in viewing this (digital copy of a photograph of the) painting online. On yet another level, it makes the statement true: the painting, indeed, is not available in my country. (In fact, I don't even know where it is physically located.) Which brings back another kind of frustration, also born of the digital age, of being teased by and not being able to see all the original artworks in the world, and having to make do with crude online representations...

Via Neural.

Update: To add yet another representational meta-layer, the artist created an infographic documenting the spread of his painting online - including this blog's review. The result was included in his exhibition in Három Hét Gallery, Budapest (until 14 June).

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