On Friday February 15, 2019 - Jonathan Paul debuted “All The More Best” at Spring Break Los Angeles. Those who attended witnessed his appropriation and impersonation of the artist Richard Prince.
VIP guests were allowed to choose one of the 12 celebrity photos shown and were told that Mr. Prince would then sign the photo for them.
Jonathan Paul signed hundreds of 8 x 10 celebrity photos for visitors and fans of Richard Prince. Signing the photographs and posing for fan photos sealed the performance.
Celebrity fandom exists even in the art world and the excitement can be extremely potent in creating an aura of disbelief. The guests willingness to believe that Jonathan Paul was Richard Prince continued through the performance, and it wasn’t until after guests received their signature and left did a few begin to process what might be happening.
Appropriating the identity of an ‘artist’ is the art, and a natural contemporary step of art appropriation, especially in this bourgeoning digital age. Identity thefts, fake instagram celebrities, and fake news outlets, coupled with the mass amounts of hijacked imagery at our disposal create very blurry narratives of truth.
‘Truth’ inevitably becomes our personal truth. As Richard Prince has challenged us through the years to accept this fact, Jonathan Paul has simply continued it into the next step of appropriation. The idea of truth can extend though identity appropriation and will be very difficult to navigate as culture progresses into the next decade.
At our core perhaps, we simply want to believe. Jonathan Paul simply painted his face and set up red rope with stanchions. That was all it took for VIP art show visitors, the art press, and artists alike to believe.
“You know appropriating the identity of another artist and calling it mine is something that I have to give myself permission to do. Obviously someone else can’t do it for me. A lot of people would probably say wait a minute, you can’t do this. You can’t just go steal another artists identity and make things as them, sign it as them, call it yours and sell it. But for me that’s very easy to do. It’s not really the idea of creating something new. Its’ the idea of creating something that’s continued. It’s not appropriating the art, it’s appropriating the artist himself.” Jonathan Paul