16 April - 04 May 2014 By Cocoy Lumbao
As every work of art is unique, so are the individuals that are responsible for each artwork. Artists are characters, and are in themselves works-in-progress. These characters, just like their works, are susceptible to an audience’s criticisms, impressions, and varying standards of judgment. These judgments invariably affect the value ascribed to the piece each artist makes. The identity of the artist becomes inseparable to his art. Authorship is a concept embedded in each produced object, but it is a volatile concept, which can be as shadowy and as fictitious as the work of art itself.
In The Shadow Factory, curator Gary-Ross Pastrana sees identity and authorship as a platform for artists, a method for production at their disposal. As the title of the show is borrowed from a covert plan by allied forces during the Second World War to secretly turn generic factories into instruments for building aircraft, it reflects the same kind of scheme artists use to attend to a specific activity, usually veiled under a different persona. It recalls the time when Marcel Duchamp invented the character Rrose Selavy to undermine concepts in art-production, or the circumstances when writers and musicians assume a different name to undertake a specific genre dissimilar from works they are usually known for.
The Shadow Factory examines this prevailing concept that attest to the volatility of authorship in art: the artist’s inclination to conceal one’s identity. By presenting established artists with equally important projects under pseudonyms, pen names, alter egos or as part of an anonymous collective, the exhibition provides possible readings for the artists’ need to take on clandestine roles. Through the works of contemporary artists with fabricated personas such as Angel Flores,Crocogator, Saturnino Basilla, Tito & Tita, and artists taking on collective names to eradicate the idea of a single authorship such as Broke, Department of Everyday Productions, and The Weather Bureau, The Shadow Factory re-evaluates these tendencies as a platform for the artist to produce a specific kind of art, which may entail mystery, anonymity, affinity, or the desire to re-invent oneself.
For some artists, a default nomenclature is not enough to justify the act of venturing into a different set of work. Whether out of psychological, socio-political, conceptual, formal or a mutual agenda, a different identity (or non-identity) has to be attached to the object produced. Different conditions can be associated with the move—more room for creative freedom, the exhilaration found in the creation of hidden identities, or the improvement in objectifying art by dislodging any personality or trait that can be attached to it. With this group of already established artists, cloaked and propped by a different set of name and a different set of work, sharing a common space may provide a brief illumination and an unmasking—to discover what lies behind the motive for their aliases.
The Shadow Factory with Angel Flores, Broke, Crocogator, Department of Everyday Productions, Saturnino Basilla, Tito & Tita, and The Weather Bureau runs from 16 April to 04 May 2014 at Silverlens Gillman Barracks at 47 Malan Road, #01-25 Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109444