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Identity Theft - Mimmoscognamiglio Arte Contemporanea

15 December - 28 February 2011
Gallery: Mimmoscognamiglio Arte Contemporanea

Identity theft has become a very topical fear in our contemporary society due to Internet hacking and the fraudulent use of discarded financial documents. It involves various types of impersonation and scams that the media claim are very common everyday occurrences. As a deterrent people are encouraged to become more vigilant by using document shredders and to be constantly on their guard for suspicious emails. Security specialists have even proposed the introduction of a national database and I.D. system that contains personal biological digital data such as iris scans and dental records. But the idea of substituting identity with such fixed, precise and infinitely transferable data doesn’t seem to be an accurate reflection of who we really are. In fact it’s not possible to literally ‘steal’ someone’s identity since identity has no physical existence. Identity relates to various aspects of an individual - appearance, personality character, feelings, intelligence, and behavior.

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 that often unwittingly render 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.

The ‘shaping’ of identity, includes elements that are geopolitical, ethnic, class, gendered, generational, institutional, or personal. This exhibition explores how much fact and how much fiction goes into such representations of identity, it could be argued that all art objects concern themselves ultimately with identity, either explicitly or implicitly. Some artists might portray themselves with multiple identities representing already existing stereotypes. They can also blur fact with fiction by appropriating the identity of others like a celebrity or becoming their alter ego and might also copy another artist’s signature style or even usurp their actual works. Art helps to shape the identity of its maker, subject, and audience.

This exhibition aims to address some of the transformed meanings of the concepts of art and identity and how socio-political forces and art-historical critique influence the production of visual art in an era dominated by the rapid globalization of culture.

Participating artists (proposed/confirmed):- Alice Anderson, Sam Buxton, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Filippo Ciavoli, Tom Gallant, Stephane Graff, Sanam Khatibi, Gonkar Gyatsu, Ximena Garrido-Lecca, Alastair Mackie, Wangechi Mutu, Whitney McVeigh, Sandra Setzkorn, Chiharu Shiota, Gavin Turk