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Artist and film-maker Jessica Sarah Rinland has authored a brief essay movie on the universal themes of the copy and the original. A copyist reproduces an original work of art, a museum conservator fabricates a damaged object with replacement materials. But the originals are arguably copies of ideas and genres within the artist’s mind, and the biological act of reproduction is an act of copying, from the DNA template.
Rinland’s camera observes calmly, almost blankly, as the introduction of howler monkeys into the wild is discussed by zoologists – a habitat where they might breed – and this issue is juxtaposed with restoration work at the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the British Museum in London. An elephant tusk is copied as a plaster cast; confiscated tusks are used to restore a 19th-century ivory box, antiquities are painstakingly brought back to a version of their fundamental selves.
It is intricate, meticulous work and Rinland follows it nearly in real time; it is an almost experimental procedure, although a series of titles at the very end make it clear exactly what we have been watching. The film is pregnant with ideas: I found myself thinking of Jean Baudrillard’s writings about the “simulacrum”, about a world with Elvis impersonators but no Elvis. As the ivory box is slowly restored to an approximation of its old self, we have the leisure to consider that this is an activity not very different from making it the first time around: both are from the same prototype, and that the time-lapse between the two has, in some sense, been abolished.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Those That, At a Distance, Resemble Another review – meditation on the art and act of copying | Film