Gareth Long - Copy of Jean Prouve's Potence Lamp (reading all the modern sciences of 1850 in 1950) Gareth Long - Copy of Jean Prouve's Potence Lamp (reading all the modern sciences of 1850 in 1950) Gareth Long - Copy of Jean Prouve's Potence Lamp (reading all the modern sciences of 1850 in 1950) Gareth Long - Copy of Jean Prouve's Potence Lamp (reading all the modern sciences of 1850 in 1950)

Copy of Jean Prouve's Potence Lamp (reading all the modern sciences of 1850 in 1950)

2011
80" x 43" x 2"
Steel, wiring, lightbulb
Edition of 9 + 2 APs

Jean Prouve was a French architect and designer who came to prominence in the early 1930s with his purist, modernist designs.

Known for his egalitarian and socially conscious design and labour philosophies, much of Prouve's work was made for the public sector: for hospitals, schools and offices. His furniture and buildings embodied the democratic and humanitarian ideals of Modernism: functionality and elegance for all.

For Copy of Jean Prouve's Potence Lamp (reading all the modern sciences of 1850 in 1950), Canadian artist Gareth Long makes an exact replica of one of Prouve's most iconic designs, his Potence reading lamp. Replication was a key facet of Prouve's designs. He was one of the first to develop and advocate methods of mass production that would allow all sectors of society access to his works.

The title of Long's work alludes to Modernism's grandiose intentions, that carry beyond the function of the humble reading lamp. As part of a culture of reading, education, art and science, items such as the Potence lamp were made to shine literal and symbolic light on Modernism's potently upward-arching passage, from its industrial beginnings in the nineteenth century to its height in the 1950s.

Today, such Modernist design items tend to be copied and distributed as cheap knock-off versions, quickly subsumed into commercial cultures of mass consumption. Or (as is the case with this particular lamp), they are remade as rare, expensive luxury items, their endless re-imaging in digital and printed media imbuing them with an iconicity that goes against any the philanthropic thinking of their designers.

By making a set of facsimiles of Prouve's potence lamp, Long uses copying as a rogue mode of intervention into the circuits of commodity capital. By diminishing the aura of exclusivity now surrounding this piece, he recalls the designer's original intentions, and raises questions about art's role in formations of value. Reversing the usual understanding of art as a 'commodity form' that bestows monetary worth, here he uses its inherent reproducibility to create a cheap version that is more affordable than the 'real' reproduction.