The curiosity of the human animal is such that, put face-to-face with an artist and a work of art, we are tempted to pluck at each thread that joins the two, searching for the "truth" of the work, and the artist. While the work cannot, on some elemental level, be separated from the artist, it's dangerous to assume that we can define the artist by the work.
This conundrum of artistic identity is at the heart of "Not Quite Myself Today," a video installation featuring the work of eight artists, which will open with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, December 15, at the ASU Art Museum. The videos offer diverse explorations on the theme of identity, both in terms of how artists view themselves and how they are perceived by others.
Artist S.E. Barnet is displayed in fragmented body parts on multiple monitors in Mary Shelley's Daughter, and the viewer is cast in the role of Dr. Frankenstein, asked to manipulate the images to construct a personal vision of the artist. The results can be, well, monstrous -- "a conglomeration of body parts created by an individual with all the best of intentions, but perhaps without a knowledge of or appreciation for the final outcome," as the show's handlers put it.
In Double, artist Kerry Tribe is portrayed in a series of documentary-style monologues by actresses who fit her physical description and assume her identity. Tribe herself never appears in the piece, but the viewer is left with an impression of her -- an impression that may or may not be true. And that's a point worth remembering.
"While the artists included in 'Not Quite Myself Today' most definitely have a personal presence in their videos," says curator John Spiak, "their work is not synonymous with their true selves or with their chosen role as artists."