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Stephanie Syjuco: Counterfeit Artist

By Tara Goe

WITH GROWING access to cheap and effective technologies like Google Image Search and Adobe Photoshop, everyday folks, without sophisticated training, can fairly easily attempt to copy currency or consumer products. Less interesting, perhaps, than the value of the actual reproduced object is the process of producing the fake or counterfeit object. There is something to be said for the art of creating something other than the “real thing,” objects that are real enough in their own right (despite inherent offness and wankiness) but that do not serve a communicative function without first referencing a pre-existing object.

The work of conceptual artist Stephanie Syjuco treads a fine line between the counterfeit and the bootlegged or knockoff object. While bootlegs are usually fully functional items illegally manufactured without paying copyright fees (think CDs, DVDs, computer software), and knockoffs are items of inferior quality that imitate more well-known ones but still uphold their function (think fake Gucci purses), most of Syjuco’s pieces have been completely stripped of all functionality. This lack of functionality edges them one step beyond fake; they instead become signs and symbols, devoid of all utility and substance.

Most of her counterfeit objects are created with the simplest of supplies: foam board, contact paper, tape, Sunday advertising cutouts, or LaserJet prints of poor quality images taken from online vendors such as eBay and Craigslist. By re-creating everyday products and electronics—from cell phones and computers to 50 Cent CDs and diamond rings—using the simplest of technologies,

it’s unclear whether Syjuco is trying to fool, confuse, or simply tickle the fancy of the viewer. She admits on her website that what most interests her “are the mis-translations or mis-appropriations (be they purposeful or accidental) that happen when an image or concept is remade and shifted away from [its] correct territories … traveling from the top (i.e. the global) on downwards (to local communities).”

Her art essentially, and often hilariously, lies in the act of reproducing pre-existing objects, with the emphasis being on the process of reproduction and general fakery. So you can consider her pieces as art, or, as she says on her website, “like, incredibly poor bootlegs.”

Photo One: Everything Must Go (Grey Market)
digital prints, foamboard, paper, tape, foam; dimensions variable

Photo Two: Bling Bling
Magazine clippings, paper, foil, case, and series of framed lightjet chromogenic prints, each 20” x 15”

Photo Three: Hello (handmade cellphone)
magazine image, foam, tape, batteries

Photo Four: Bling Bling
Magazine clippings, paper, foil, case, and series of framed lightjet chromogenic prints, each 20” x 15”

Photo Five: Fitty Fitty Cent
Wood, inkjet prints of jpgs downloaded from, plastic, tape, each approximately the size of a CD, edition of 50

Posted in Portfolio, Untitled

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