a blank canvas

Johannes Meinhardt, Painting as Empty Space: Allan McCollum’s Subversion of the Last Painting

A picture which only stands for painting can, however, be used as a surrogate, a proxy for any other possible picture. lt can assume the place of a painting within a framework or an institution; it then functions as a vacant space, an ersatz which keeps the place of a painting vacant and thus allows its absence to be perceived.

Such ‘ersatz’-paintings are analytic instruments to be used within the socially existing places and institutions of art to demonstrate the functioning of the context…

…McCollum’s “Surrogates on Location” (as of 1981/82). These works are made of photos showing TV scenes or magazine photos in which “Surrogates” appear in the decor of the scene, somewhere in the background, as a sign of cultivatedness and as social or class-specific distinction.

By entering the economic cycle of exchange as an exchangeable vehicle of value, it no longer shows itself as painting, as visible work. Instead it reveals its social surface as a sign which it codes as a rare, valuable good.

They allude to Marcel Duchamp’s subversive strategies at the point where they ostentatiously create a noticeable opposition between the basic fulfillment of the expectations given in a specific situation, governed by the context, the institution, and the disappointment, the lack.

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