If the Copy Is an Artwork, Then What’s the Original?

A commercial photographer sees his work as part of the Richard Prince retrospective, and it brings up a whole slew of questions about attribution and art made from rethinking pre-existing images. My favorite quote from the befuddled photog:

“At this point it’s been done, and it’s out there,” he said. “My whole issue with this, truly, is attribution and recognition. It’s an unusual thing to see an artist who doesn’t create his own work, and I don’t understand the frenzy around it.”

I get the frenzy; we live in a world where a good mashup may be as valuable, if not more, as a good original. But didn’t this controversy already happen with the whole “After Walker Evans" exhibition? Although then, I suppose, the scandal was about stealing art to make art. What it means to steal ads to make art is a whole other ballgame.