What's on: Real fakes

Rotonda della Besana, Milan

Are we really sure forgery is always a crime and that it is not sometimes fashionable to be taken in? Trade marks and designer labels always find a ready market and the consumer is quite happy to play his part, hampering all attempts at control. A firm like Cartier, which has always been a target for forgers, is well aware of this and decided to delve into this practice in an attempt to understand its sociological and psychological aspects, while maintaining the spectacle. Thus it was that in 1988 the Fondation Cartier held a successful exhibition in France entitled “Vraiment faux”, which has now reached the Rotonda della Besana in Milan in an extended version, where it will remain until 31 March when it will travel to the Villa Stuck in Munich. There are three sections in this exploration of fakes. The first, “Fakes and forgery”, presents a set of some of the most notorious fakes, from works of art to banknotes, food and cassettes. “Copies/quotations/interpretations” is concerned with that no-man’s-land on the border between true and false; the symbol is Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa”, which has so often been copied for all manner of ends once it had become a myth, from the iconoclastic humour of Dada to the kitsch of chocolate boxes. The recently developed “attributionistic” tendency led by Mike Bidlo serves as the background to this section. The final part is entitled “Virtuality and simulation”: that is the pathetic attempts by human beings to replace a natural object with a man-made product. Accompanying this section is a parade of contemporary artists who base their work on the idea of using mirrors to represent man’s search for his own identity.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 6 March 1991