350MC – Mishka Henner & Robert Frank

by alexmasonphotography

Mishka Henner

An artist called Mishka Henner created a photo book called Less Americains based on a classic body of work Les Americains by Robert Frank. Henner controversially appropriated Frank’s photos by erasing certain parts of the image to create surreal ghostly images.The title Henner chose is asking to be questioned and criticized and suggests that Henner new the controversy of his practice before she undertook it. Reviews on the work such as “the work is rubbish” suggest the anger that people have about appropriation or theft.

“Take your own damn photographs you little piece of excrement,”

Maybe appropriation isn’t such a bad thing. People expressing themselves creatively isn’t a bad thing, and personally I think we should encourage people to appropriate other peoples work, lets face it, they could be doing worse things, right?

The first image you see is from Robert Franks iconic book Les Americains and the second image you see is the appropriated version that Mishka Henner put in his book Less Americains. Even the title of Henner’s book is questionable, is he out there to upset people? Personally I think it anything it is only going to draw more attention to Robert Frank’s work and I think it is no different from somebody singing a cover of a song. (Apologies for the difference in size.)



I think this is an example of appropriation that works well because although arguably Henner has stolen images and altered them by erasing he isn’t trying to claim the work as original and says that he is trying to address a social context. Henners images are still documentary images but not as we recognise them. I actually enjoy looking at Henners appropriated versions of Franks images, they make me think, reflect and question what why he has erased certain parts and not others.