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Tim – Benjamin Response

October 22, 2009

evans_hale_county

Walker Evans – Hale County, Alabama – 1936

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Sherrie Levine – After Walker Evans – 1981

I think Sherrie Levine makes one of the most interesting commentaries on the questions of reproduction and originality that Benjamin raises in his essay. She took pictures of Walter Evans photographs in an exhibition catalog then displayed them as her own. For me, this act raises a series of questions I prefer to leave open: If these two pictures look essentially the same, do they have different artistic value? Each obviously sends a different message, so how does context influcence art? Is one of them better, more interesting? If I rephotographed Levine’s rephotographs would that have the same force as her originals? To put each of those pictures online, someone already had to take pictures of them. Is something lost in this process, as Benjamin suggests, or is something gained, as Levine demonstrates?

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