When The Famous Fashionable Trousers Label was founded in the early 1980s,
it had two purposes. The first was to distribute cassettes that were considered
too abstruse even for Deleted Records. The second was as an outlet for
a graphic art form that the members of 391 had labelled Waisenkunstwerk
- literally "orphaned artwork". (No good reason for giving it
a German name - it just sounded more pretentious and "arty".)
movement was seen as a reaction against the so-called "cult of originality"
that 391 believed was polluting the world of fine art: an original painting
by Van Gogh, for example, will sell for thousands - maybe millions - of
dollars, whereas a print of the same picture can be bought from an art
shop for a few pounds. The subject of the painting (i.e. the "idea"
of the artist) is the same in both cases, so what is the cause of this
vast disparity in value? Simply the "originality" of the source
painting. The purity of the artist's conception seemed to have been lost
or ignored in an ignominious scramble to possess mere canvas and paint.
As a retort to this, 391 proposed a method whereby an original piece of
art would be photocopied a number of times. The original "parent"
piece would then be destroyed (thus "orphaning" the copied artwork).
The copied "orphans" could then be copied further to produce
even more "children" or "clones" that would all be
indistinguishable from, and as "valid" as, each other. These
waisenkunstwerken would then be distributed in the same way as
the cassettes - free to anyone who sent a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
The recipients would be free to make their own copies and distribute them
as they wished. No one could demand an extortionate price for a waisenkunstwerk
purely on the basis of its "originality".
number of these pieces were planned, but only those linked below were
ever completed - the cassette-distribution aspect of Fashionable Trousers,
along with other commitments, meant that there was virtually no spare
time to develop this intriguing idea.
Is A City Much Like London (Triptych): (inspired
by a letter from Su The Vampyre)
of Audrey Hepburn (one of a planned series featuring Audrey
of Patricia Morrison With Ballerinas and Spider (one of a
planned series of female bass players)
of Gaye Advert (unfinished working copy)
of Cait O'Riordan (unfinished working copy)
in Sunglasses on Concrete
have produced a new piece of Waisenkunstwerk to
commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Chris Chubbuck,
who shot herself on live television in Sarasota, Florida on 15th
July 1974. As far as we can ascertain this is the only image of
Chris currently available on the Internet. The artwork itself is,
of course, not copyrighted, but if you do use the image we would
appreciate a mention:
Of Chris Chubbuck (low resolution version)
Of Chris Chubbuck (zip file of full-sized version - 246K)
the most in-depth analysis of Chris's story, 391 recommend Sally Quinn's
article from the Washington Post
of 4th August 1974. It features a detailed account of the events
of the morning of 15th July 1974, interviews with Chris's family,
friends and colleagues, and an investigation into the possible reasons
behind her suicide. It's available from the Washington
Post archive for the very reasonable sum of $2.95
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