In a new book Radical Cut-Up: Nothing is Original, edited by Lukas Feireiss, the interdisciplinary creative investigates the notion of cultural production, questioning the dichotomy of original creation. Originally conceived two years ago as Lukas was developing the “Radical Cut-up temporary Master of Fine Arts and Design” program at Amsterdam’s Sandberg Instituut, the new book features excerpts from the program’s alumni as well as contributions from a number of other artists and writers exploring the global importance of how images and motifs are appropriated over time.
“Participants in the Radical Cut-Up program challenged each other to question deeply entrenched, classical notions of aesthetic purity, originality and autonomy,” explains Lukas on the two year course’s syllabus. And as a consequence, the book not only embodies the ideas and work created on the course, it also dives into the essays and articles that inspired Lukas to create the program in the first place.
The book serves as an “open container”, looking into the long list of terms and actions that describe the ongoing re-appropriation of images, motifs and ideas. As the cross-pollination of ideas and visuals has spread alongside mingling of cultures, the cultural appropriation conversation has cropped up significantly in recent times. The book however, doesn’t track the reoccurrence of motifs over time and space, instead, “it assembles texts and works from multifarious eras and origins,” explains the editor.
“What unites all the contributions in the book however,” he continues, “is an urgency for upholding a healthy distrust of any single narrative in the realisation that any pursuit of truth necessitates a multiplicity of perspectives and contradictions.” With contributions from Them Bettridge, Marcus Boon, Nicolas Bourriaud, Rachel Falconer and Stacey Waite to name a few, not to mention the editor himself, Lukas hopes that the publication will, if anything, “encourage emerging artists to fully embrace their inspirations,” albeit with a better understanding of the conversation around appropriation.
In our current age, it’s easy to become creatively paralysed when it comes to considering what has been done before our time. As creative’s consistently yearn to be original, the book helps to deconstruct the value around these complicated terms. “Copy, combine and celebrate your influences,” encourages Lukas, “Nothing is original and everything is original!”
Suggesting new narratives through the “cut-up” format of the book, Lukas presents the reader with a multi-person perspective on the subject. “Because that’s what anything cut up or collaged is about, isn’t it?” Utilising existing materials to infer new meaning. “I hope the readers of this book will feel encouraged to freely explore alternative potentialities for artistic creation,” adds Lukas. And experimentation, iteration, trial and error are all essential parts of the process along the way.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.