Marcel COUSINS, Boxes and screen or Boxes and screen. Enlarge 1 /1


Australia born 1972

  • Japan from 1998

Boxes and screen or Boxes and screen. 1999 Place made: Tokyo, Kanto, Tokyo metropolis, Japan
Materials & Technique: prints, woodblock, colour copy transfers and collograph Support: paper
Edition State: published state
Impression: 2/4
Edition: edition of 4

Dimensions: printed image 63.0 h x 90.0 w cm sheet 63.0 h x 90.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 2000
Accession No: NGA 2000.300
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from Helen Gory Gallery, Melbourne, August 2000.

My method of production is archaeological in a sense. I am sifting through the visual traces (texts and images) of Japanese culture: the things that are available at street level, on the surface and – reading back – tracing an origin or a prior story, to develop an insight into some of the mediated perceptions I have of Japanese life.

My primary interest in utilising printed media lies in their ability to question the idea of artworks as ‘one-offs’, as unique and irreplaceable. We now live in an age of mass reproduction, where original images can be duplicated with ease by digital printing and to the highest quality. Many of these reproductions are widely distributed in the form of books, posters, postcards, T-shirts, calendars, stamps and even tableware.

The reproducibility of original art must therefore have a degrading effect on ‘originality’ itself. In some cases, when the duplicate is the only reference, the ‘mechanically reproduced original’ becomes the original itself. So for most of us, the duplicate is reality as we know it.  The work Boxes and screen is an exploration of the difference between an object and its representation, by changing scale, context and by introducing foreign materials, depicting what exists between a cultural reality and a cultural mythology. So, meaning is therefore a transient phenomenon that changes or keeps changing its meanings, rather than something that is fixed holding over time for a series of different audiences.

Martin Cousins, 2002

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002