Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

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Curator Eriola Pira developed this proposal during the Summer 2010 Curatorial Intensive in New York. 

Lives of Artists is a curatorial research project that aims to initiate a critical discourse and presentation of the fictional artist as an artistic practice and production. Taking as its starting point the fictional artist - as an artistic strategy and work of art - this project examines the desires and conditions, artistic or otherwise, which have necessitated the creation of fictional artists and their myriad manifestations and enterprises in the realm of the real.

Spread over the course of two to three years this project will develop and unfold in two phases. The first phase will comprise of historical and theoretical research into the various manifestations and apparatuses of fictional artists. Considering the lack of critical attention to and literature on fictional artists, the research will be conducted mainly through primary sources: artists’ interviews, art works, documents, manifestos, performances, press and archival materials. The research into and account of fictional artists will extend over to the presentation phase of the project in that the planned conference, publication and exhibition will serve to publicly address the questions and answers offered by fictional artists while critically considering and presenting the fictional artist as an artistic practice and production. The research and presentation of this project will involve artists, historians and curators and various geographical and virtual locations to comprise an extensive survey and knowledge of fictional artists. As the title suggests, this project is takes after Vasari’s encyclopedia of artists’ biographies. The genre of artists’ biographies, and Vasari’s “Lives” especially, offers a model that is appropriate to considering and recording fictional artists: as the subject itself necessitates an approach to critical analysis that intersperses fact with fiction and keeps up the fabrication while revealing and investigating the many different kinds of fictional characters, narratives and their relationship to and complicity with the real. Through extensive research and its eventual presentation through various means and formats, this project will examine and present the principles and metaphysical conditions of fictional artists and bring to the fore their very poetics.

The fictional artists to be considered and included in this project range from the more traditional alter-egos, noms de guerre and artist personas; to those that act as singular units for a collective or an anonymous group of artists; to fictitious and mythical artists created to provide historical or alternate narratives; and to the hoax artists that are intended to provoke and test out the limits of art and reality. With artists and artistic strategies ranging from Marcel Duchamp’s Rose Selavy to Claire Fontaine; John Dogg to Donelle Woolford; John Fare to Darko Maver – this project about fictional artists presents a unique opportunity to consider and account for the developments and achievements of conceptualism and the artist’s personae as a hallmark of contemporary art. Fictional artists have been strategically crafted and artfully introduced into the world to stake out new grounds and positions; provide (art) historical narratives and alternate trajectories; interrogate artistic singularity and authenticity, and play with the celebrity driven art-world and market. They are in and of themselves works of art and deserve to be considered and be given critical attention, as such. Bringing together contemporary, and where appropriate, historical fictional artists and their real creators - this project examines and explores the fictional artists’ poetic subtlety and complex narratives; the inherent relationship between fact and fiction; the artist and his creation; artistic singularity and authorship; embodiment and spectrality; the artist as a work of art; as a celebrity and commodity; and provocation and play.

Other artists to be researched and presented in this project: Yevel Demikovsky, Ilya Kabakov, Charles Rosenthal, Reena Spaulings, Lee Hamilton, Chris Hamson, Mark Manders, John Smith, Georg Paul Thomann, Huang Wei, Trajan Sekulovski-Svirakus, Joseph Wagenbach, Sean Hayes, BLCK, Bruce High Quality, Netochka Nezvanova, Mouchette, Sandra Bridie, Sophie Brown, Justine Daf, Fiona Burns, Robbie Williams, Norma Jeane and many others.

Learn more

For further information about this project, please email Eriola Pira at To learn more about the Curatorial Intensive email