Dopplenamer explores the confusion that happens when two people share a name.
Personal identities are how we define and perceive ourselves, yet the Internet has radically affected how the individual is represented in the public realm. In the age of social media and search engines the lives of two or more disparate people with the same name can easily overlap and be confused, resulting in parallel narratives that intersect and exist both in and outside of the internet.
Art history is littered with multiple hybrid visual identities as artists endeavored to express their own interpretations of the same historic figures, each tinged by their own aesthetic and social experience.
The artists in Doppelnamer respond to the proliferating confusion and complex narratives that come about as a result of shared identities and contribute to the blurring distinctions between the readymade and the original, consumption and production, and creation and imitation.
Look, let me explain something to you. I'm not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude.
So that's what you call me. That, or His Dudeness … Duder … or El Duderino, if, you know, you're not into the whole brevity thing.
--The Big Lebowski
Doppelnamer is an evolving and expanding exhibition with the first iteration taking place at the Spring/Break Art Show 2016.
SPRING/BREAK Art Show
New York City's curator-driven art fair during Armory Arts Week.
March 2 - 7, 2016
Skylight at Moynihan Station (8th Avenue Main Entrance)
Curated by Elisabeth Smolarz, Jamie Diamond and Lauren Silberman
JONATHAN ALLEN, BRENT BIRNBAUM, DANIEL BEJAR, VINCE CONTARINO, JAMIE DIAMOND, ANDREW ROSS, LAUREN SILBERMAN, ELISABETH SMOLARZ
UN/SELF/PORTRAIT is a new short video that presents portraits of multiple Jonathan Allen’s merging, dissolving, and cycling between one another, using collage and décollage techniques to create a dynamic, ambiguous portrait of Jonathan Allen. The video uses stop-motion techniques to dynamically suggest the slipperiness and commonalities between multiple selves linked by name. Jonathan Allen is a common name, shared by a British visual artist/magician, a news commentator, an NFL draft pick, a vocalist, and a New York visual artist. This looped video is being presented as a single portrait, in an antique picture frame.
In 2011, Daniel Bejar learned (via Google Alert) of a Libyan plot to smuggle international playboy Saadi Gaddafi, son of Libya’s deceased ruler, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, from Niger into exile in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico. The plot was ultimately foiled by the Mexican government but not before investigators found false papers for Saadi Gaddafi bearing the alias Daniel Bejar. Struck by this strange coincidence, as well as by his resemblance to Gaddafi, Bejar (the artist) traveled to Mexico to realize the plot. Through site-specific performance and photography, he portrayed himself as Gaddafi in the luxurious exile in which Gaddafi had intended to live out his life.
Stemming from an ongoing project with his younger doppelnamer, Brent Birnbaum appropriated a book representing his growing up in the 80s and a VHS tape representing the other Brent Birnbaum growing up in the 90s. Similar in color, composition, theme, and campiness, they represent parallel lives, yet with a decade of variation. Finding two objects that are so similar yet different speaks to the connections that can only be revealed over time.
About 10 years ago, painter Vince Contarino received an email from another Vince Contarino, a musician who turned out to be the lead singer of a successful Led Zeppelin cover band in Australia. They had some correspondence around this time, and he would periodically receive die-hard fan emails in a case of mistaken identity. Contarino has taken scans of the first four Led Zeppelin albums and done his own “covers” of them at double the size of a standard vinyl record. The marks and gestures are from a previous drawing project in his studio, that are riffing and expanding on his ever-unfolding abstract language. The fact that they are his own marks, but in a digital format, further emphasizes the idea of covering, versus the analog process in the physicality of making an original work.
In Jesus Heads, Jamie Diamond explores the variety and subjectivity of multiple art historical representations of the same figure, along side the contemporary outsider art practice of Reborn doll making. Having appropriated a series of canonical representations of the Baby Jesus, in this case Perugino, Raphael and Bellini, Diamond employed amateur Reborn doll makers, herself included, to make portrait dolls in their image. The resulting portrait busts, much like the original images, convincingly feign reality without entering into it, each portrait representing more of the artist themselves than their subject.
After being mistakenly contacted by multiple news agencies, including Fox News, NBC, and Al Jazeera for being the first female to try out for the NFL, artist Lauren Silberman tracked down and contacted NFL hopeful, Lauren Silberman and invited her to be photographed. The resulting piece, Face Off, is a composite of their two faces framed in a trophy, confirming the continued confusion between their identities based solely on their name.
Mirroring the stylistic quality of a psychodrama Elisabeth Smolarz the artist went to France in 2015 to visit her new aunt, also Elisabeth Smolarz found recently via Facebook. Elisabeth Smolarz the artist assumes the identity of her estranged family member, dressed in her aunts clothing she performs alongside her for one full day. The final installation, Elisabeth Smolarz featuring Elisabeth Smolarz, August 20th, France, 2015 shows fragments from that day with both women cooking, gardening, watching TV as well as taking a short trip together. The fleeting photographic fragments are coupled with household objects and mementos. The smell of Bonnie Plants from the last time Elisabeth saw her family at the age of four, a necklace and earrings her uncle sent her for her communion, and most recently a parting gift from her aunt...a cork top.
Andrew Ross is often confused with a cultural critic of the same name. To Ross, their similarities and differences are exemplified by their travel histories. Having recently been to Venice for the Biennale, Ross received messages intended for his Doppelnamer who was there at the same time and involved in protests and demonstrations. A few months ago Ross's Doppelnamer was banned from visiting the UAE because he is involved in the Gulf Labor Artists Coalition and has openly protested the labor practices of Guggenheim Abu Dahbi. Coincidentally, Ross had been to the UAE for a job involving the Guggenheim Abu Dahbi not long before. While he was there he witnessed construction sites similar to those his Doppelnamer protested. Ross responds to these coincidences and non-coincidences with cultural critic Andrew Ross through a sculptural drawing in space taking the form of a canvas cart - the kind that might be found in a post office or often out on the street, usually either filled
with random junk or packaged goods for distribution. Ross uses this form and imagery to create a kind of packaging landscape within it, reminiscent of the above-mentioned geographical areas. Ross is interested in this form because
it is reminiscent of the canopy which covers the race track at Yas Island in Abu Dahbi. He sees this sculpture as
being in part about globalization (and travel and shipping etc.) and in part about the inextricably local building (verb