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The Art Gym Presents Anonymous

For Release: December 21, 2011

Guest Curator: Micah Malone

• Preview Reception: Sunday, January 8 from 3 to 5 p.m.
• Exhibition continues through Wednesday, February 15
• Gallery Talk: Thursday, January 12, noon

The Art Gym is opening its winter season Sunday, January 8 at 3 p.m. with a reception for Anonymous, an exhibition organized by guest curator Micah Malone. Anonymous includes work by six artists who have agreed to remain anonymous and will be identified in the exhibition as Artist A, Artist B, Artist C, Artist D, Artist E and Artist F. Anonymous will include painting, wall drawings, sculpture, video and installation and continue through Wednesday, February 15.

Artists in anonymous signed a contract that included the following first paragraph:

1. Agreement: You, "Artist D" are entering into an agreement with the "Curator" and The Art Gym. Both "Artist D" and "Curator" agree to never confirm your participation in this exhibition to the press, Art Gym museum staff members, students, other artists, friends, family, or anybody who might fall outside of this list. Your participation will not be listed on any press materials, statements or documents outside of this one. If a direct question is asked of your participation a straight lie of, "no, I have nothing to do with any of this" is perfectly acceptable. Upon signature of this contract, your authorship is officially obscured.

Micah Malone is an artist, critic and occasional exhibition organizer. He has written extensively for Artpapers, Artforum.com and the online arts journal Big Red & Shiny, where he was also an editor. He is currently the arts journalist for Arcadia Semana based in Bogota, where he now lives.

Guest Curator Micah Malone writes:

For "Anonymous," I asked six artists to make work specifically for the exhibition, yet remain completely anonymous. The artists were urged to create work separate from their typical practices with the intent that the work be a departure, a point of difference, and hence unrecognizable from their otherwise productive careers. Each artist signed a contract with the expressed agreement that their authorship be officially obscured, agreeing that their participation be kept secret to all Art Gym personnel, members of the press, students, other artists, friends, family or anybody else.

I aspired to give artists some relief from the constraints of maintaining an artistic identity. Without the pressure of sustaining one's narrative and persona, artists could be free to make whatever they pleased. No particular theme was solicited or wanted. However, the other side of freedom is constraint. Without the possibility for rightful public acknowledgement, the artists could limit their investment in the show. After many emails of brainstorming how a particular image might take form, Artist A concluded, "I am so low on funds even small prints are hard for me to afford right now given my situation, and since these won't be sold or credited it's hard to make an investment other than intellectually." Despite these supposed limitations, I believe the scrutinized result chooses cost-efficiency over excessive production. Something I wholly welcome in today's climate.

Other artists had different criteria for choosing their respective projects. Artist D stated, "Though I do love this work with the others, I feel it would be best to be able to make this work with my name." Artist E suffered from too many ideas and said, "All of sudden, any style is really easy for me to parody right now. Today I am a figure painter, tomorrow I could be a conceptualist, the next day a post-black artist." Consciously strategizing what to feed one's artistic narrative versus the invention of seemingly infinite alternatives is precisely the tension that interests me most.

I certainly am not proposing that artists stop chasing the historical significance that will always be attached to a name. However, a break from canon building to address one's role in persona craftsmanship seems like a suitable way to confront whether the biography of an artist should or must be a determining factor when discussing art. Biography can determine meaning, but it doesn't necessarily have to.

About The Art Gym

The Art Gym is a program of the Marylhurst University Department of Art & Interior Design. The Art Gym programs are supported in part by the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Art Gym is on the third floor of the B.P. John Administration Building at Marylhurst University, which is located one mile south of Lake Oswego on Highway 43.

In 2010, The Art Gym celebrated 30 years of exhibitions, publications and conversations about contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1980 by Marylhurst University, The Art Gym's mission from its inception has been to increase public understanding of contemporary art in the region. Over the last three decades, The Art Gym has organized hundreds of exhibitions, published more than 60 exhibition catalogues (which are available online) and hosted numerous public conversations with artists in the gallery. The Art Gym's goals have been to: consider the ideas with which artists are engaged; act as a catalyst for new work; and periodically take an in-depth look at a single artist's work at midcareer. The Art Gym was a recipient of the 2004-2005 Governor's Arts Award.

 

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