Vol. 10 nº 1, juin 2023
Record collectors judge their acquisitions by condition and rarity. Mint copies and limited editions typically arouse the greatest desire and fetch the highest prices. Artist Rutherford Chang undermines such normative principles by seeking as many copies as possible, in whatever state, of one of the best-selling albums of all time: The Beatles (1968), more commonly known as “the White Album” because of its minimalist cover design. Given that 3 million albums were produced in the original numbered pressing, there is no scarcity of copies available. And after 50+ years, many of those covers have gathered a patina due to handling and storage but also because of writing and drawing. Since 2013, when Chang initiated We Buy White Albums, the artist has obtained over 3,200 albums—some that are in fine condition, but most that are worn, scribbled upon, damaged or moldy—which he periodically displays in a record shop-like format. Such an interactive exhibitionary component transforms Chang’s role into that of an artist-curator, where collecting becomes a conceptual and interrogatory gesture. This article examines Chang’s project and its ramifications for investigating the affects of aging, patina, and use of mass commodities; emphasizing fan appreciation and the practices of popular consumption; exploring the notion of collaborative, distributed creativity; and foregrounding the potential of the artist-curator role.
ISSN : 2368-7061
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