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Christian Capurro

Another Misspent Portrait of Etienne de Silhouette (AMPEdS)  1999-2014

an erased and inscribed magazine; shortwave broadcasts, talks and performances; a painted object; a magazine in a library; photographs, posters, recordings, documents and ephemera

dimensions variable

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the MCA Foundation, 2013

2013.59A-G

About the Artwork

Another Misspent Portrait of Etienne de Silhouette comprises a Vogue Hommes magazine completely erased by hand, affiliated works and a series of interrelated, often site-specific programs that use the core project pieces as the basis for an exploration of understandings of value, exchange, expenditure, picturing and effacement.

The work was produced over a five-year period between 1999 and 2004 by more than 260 volunteers who participated by erasing and then inscribing a page with the time it took them to erase it and how much they then earned for their time. Since 2004, and with each new presentation of the magazine, various material works are produced and contributions enacted ‘in its shadow’.

The title of the work references the eighteenth-century French finance minister Étienne de Silhouette, who was famous for his severe budget-cutting during the Seven Years’ War of 1759. At the time, featureless portraits cut from black card were the cheapest method available of recording a person’s appearance before the advent of photography. Given his harsh budgets, de Silhouette’s name quickly became synonymous with this cheap form of commemoration – the silhouette.

This mass erasure, inscription and ‘response’ work began with a magazine, some questions, a few willing friends and an instinct to fashion something, if not true, then vital, resistant and provocative. It was informed by the exchanges we make in our lives of material and non-material things – the looks we give and take, the objects that pass between us, the trading of our time and our energy, the values that accrue and the losses we incur in the process.

Christian Capurro, 2009

Christian Capurro

– About the artist

Born 1968, Dampier, Western Australia. Lives and works Melbourne.


Christian Capurro’s work over the last 20 years has involved a diverse range of media, including film, drawing, photography, print, installation and a long-term collaborative project. Characterised by a process-based approach and conceptually oriented concerns, Capurro’s work is rigorous in both concept and execution, and investigates image making through acts of erasure and reproduction as well as concerns of value and exchange, time and labour.

Capurro’s key exhibitions include the 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice (2007); Slave, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2014); IS, Sammlung Lenikus, Vienna (2013); Negotiating this World: Contemporary Australian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2012); Erased (Contemporary Australian Drawing), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (an Asialink touring exhibition) (2009–11); a vacant bazaar (provisional legend), Artspace, Sydney (2010); and InVisible: Art at the Edge of Perception, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Massachusetts (2010). Capurro’s work is held in public collections throughout Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

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