Using the term identity theft as its title this exhibition presents a selection of artists who investigate commonly held assumptions about identity through stereotypes, gender and ethnicity. There’s a tendency to assume that identity is a fixed ideal – something very specific rather something quite abstract, ambiguous and transient. It is perhaps significant that the word identity has a similarity with the word ‘identify’. As part of the process of understanding, human beings feel a need to classify, generalise and simplify other people’s appearance and personality traits – fix them in a stable and stabilizing identity. This can lead to cultural stereotyping where someone from a particular ethnic background is identified with its traditional cultural traits, often unwittingly rendering them with a clichéd identity. In some cultures it is believed that to photograph someone is not only to steal their identity but their very soul.
In an age where identity theft and the possibilities for impersonation are on the rise, this exhibition explores how much fact and how much fiction goes into representations of identity. Some artists might portray themselves with multiple identities representing already existing stereotypes. They can blur fact with fiction by appropriating the identity of others – like a celebrity – or becoming their alter ego; they might also copy another artist’s signature style or even usurp their actual works. This exhibition explores the interrelated fabric of art and identity, framed within the context of socio-political forces and art-historical critiques that influences the production of visual art in an era dominated by the rapid globalization of culture. Participating artists include Alice Anderson, Sam Buxton, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Filippo Ciavoli, Tom Gallant, Stephane Graff, Jochem Hendricks, Sanam Khatibi, Gonkar Gyatso, Ximena Garrido-Lecca, Alastair Mackie, Whitney McVeigh, Sandra Setzkorn, Chiharu Shiota, and Gavin Turk.
Curated by James Putnam
14 December 2010 – 28 February 2011
Mimmoscognamiglio Arte Contemporanea,
Corso di Porta Nuova, 46/b ,20121 – Milan