Martine Brinkhuis on Fri, 16 Jan 1998 12:57:02 +0100 (MET)

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nettime-nl: AVATAR - CALL FOR PROPOSALS <15/1/98

Of postmodern times and multiple identities
Amsterdam,  18/4-3/5/98

Organized by: Axis, De Balie, Maatschappij voor Oude en Nieuwe Media and

Dear Colleague(s),

Thanks to the generous support of the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts and the
Mondriaan Foundation, Paradox, Axis and De Balie are happy to announce
AVATAR, an event consisting of exhibitions, a symposium, and a special party
around the phenomenon of multiple personality. 
The event will take place at a  number of Amsterdam based institutions from
April 18 - May 3. Main exhibition site will be a 12th C church in the heart
of the red light district.

An outline of the concept is following this message. We would greatly
appreciate your suggestions for projects to be included, both from artists
(for the exhibition) or theoreticians (for the symposium or MOO Meeting as
it will be called). Please feel free to distribute this message to others. 

The deadline for proposals is close: January 15, 1998. 
It is our intention to make the exhibition available for take-over.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Bas Vroege (Paradox), Martine Brinkhuis (De Balie), Deanna Herst (Axis)


Of postmodern times and multiple identities

organized by: Axis, De Balie, Maatschappij voor Oude en Nieuwe Media and
Amsterdam,  18/4-3/5/98

	Intensive users of the Internet are familiar with the concept of the
Avatar. An "Avatar" is an "Alter Ego," a disguise that an Internet user puts
on in "Cyberspace" when communicating on "websites," "chatboxes" or "MUDS"
(Multi-User Dungeons or Domains). Because of the deceptive play of
"Avatars," no one actually knows with whom he or she is really in contact.

 The form of the "Avatar" is to a great extent determined by how creative
the user is. At the simplest level, you can pose as a man when you are a
woman, or vice versa, pose as old while being young, assume an entirely
different profession, etc. But at the same time you can also make use of
multiple personalities, something that "users" appear to be doing more and
more frequently.

	Ever advancing technological possibilities allow these guises to take on
increasingly detailed forms, thereby more closely approximating reality.
Where formerly the communication in chatboxes took place entirely through
typed text on the screen, it is now possible to give avatars a photographic
"face" and, with "text to speech" software, to convert typed text into audio
communication. Popular commercial websites such as The Palace, for instance,
are already making use of these possibilities. These developments mark the
beginning of a "new life-form" in electronic space. 

	Taking on various roles or guises has come to be almost routine for us, not
just in cyberspace but also in physical reality. It is the consequence of
social and professional pressures requiring top performance in any area of
our lives. The growing anonymity of urban society enables people to more
easily maintain these multiple, parallel aspects than previously would have
been the case. It goes without saying that the possiblities the electronic
society offers in this respect, are unparallelled.

	These developments have recently given rise to questions, particularly
psychological in nature. Illnesses such as MPS (Multiple Personality
Syndrome), schizophrenia and other identity problems might increasingly be
lying in wait for us, if we are not able to cope with the demands of modern
society. This implies keeping control over the identities connected to the
different roles we have (or want to play) in it. 

	But although the threat with regard to this phenomenon is primarily
attributed to cyberspace, such developments took (and take) place in the
"real" world as well. Roll playing which breaks through identity, such as
"gender-bending," transvestitism (theatrical and otherwise) and the "alter
egoism" of the personae behind certain amusement, chat and sex telephone
numbers, however, have become completely accepted. One can thus say that
this is a rather general (and older) social phenomenon; people no longer
unthinkingly accept the limits laid on them by a single identity. Through
these deceptive exhibitionist games people consciously flout social control.

 The theme of "multiple personality" has had a history of legitimacy as a
source of inspiration for visual artists which goes back much further than
its history as a social phenomenon. One of the pioneers in this field in the
visual arts was Marcel Duchamp, who in the 1920s attained notoriety with his
female "avatar" Rose SÚlavy. Since the 1980s the theme has been related
primarily to identification with media personages. as e.g. in the early work
of Cindy Sherman. 

 In the present decade, the increasingly indistinct border between male and
female identity has become an important point of departure. In her
photographs, Catherine Opie (USA) soberly documents Lesbian women who move
in transvestite circles. Her gallery of portraits is a peculiar inventory of
a subculture in which the right to determine one's own identity predominates
over gender conventions.

	For the interactive installation Genderbender, Greg Garvey (USA) was
inspired by the anonymity those who use chatboxes, MUDS and MOOS. Proceeding
from this, he investigated psychological tests in the field of sexual
identity. Genderbender challenges users of the installation to undergo a
personality test themselves. On the basis of the users' questions, the
computer gives a definitive answer about their identity ("You are a man!"
"You are a woman!" "You are androgynous!") An initially androgynous
individual, who becomes more masculine or feminine depending on the
questions asked, appears on a monitor. Users are themselves responsible for
the end result.

	Another component is the process of observing in contemporary technological
culture, a subject that is being investigated by artists chiefly through the
use of new media. Based on this process, Lynn Hershman (USA) shapes various
different female characters in her interactive video installations. In
addition, she has made a pair of video films about how relationships arise
through the internet, by means of assuming a different self.

	Avatar intends to bring together projects from artists who are
investigating the phenomenon of "multiple personality." In addition to
photography, video and installations, projects which make use of new media
will be at the heart of the project.


The project will take place from April 18 through May 3, 1998, and will take
place at a number of different locations in Amsterdam. Main location for the
exhibition, however, is the Oude Kerk (a 12th C church in Amsterdam's red
light district). 

The deadline for submitting proposals is January 15, 1998. 

SHORTLISTED ARTISTS (subject to change)
Jeanine Antoni (USA), Bea de Visser (NL), Jake & Dinos Chapman GB), Lynn
Hershman (USA), Cindy Sherman (USA), Hamish Buchanan (CDN), Tony Oursler
(USA), Gillian Wearing (GB), Ken Feingold (USA), Vibeke Tandberg (Norway),
Cathie Opie (USA), Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson (S), Lawrence Weiner (USA) and

Bas Vroege (Paradox), Deanna Herst (Axis), Martine Brinkhuis (De Balie)

Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst, Mondriaan Stichting

Axis   Oudezijdsvoorburgwal 72  1012 GE Amsterdam The Netherlands
T +31 (0)20 4655530 F 4654290 E

De Balie  Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10  1017 RR Amsterdam  The Netherlands
T +31 (0)20 5535151 F 5535155 E

Paradox   PO Box 113  1135 ZK Edam  The Netherlands 
T +31 (0)299 315083 F 315082 E


(Please CC Email correspondence)

Postbus 113
1135 ZK Edam
The Netherlands

T +31 (0)299 315083
F +31 (0)299 315082

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