press release

opening: 19.00 14/12/2007

In the beginning of the 60s, an organization, bearing the name SINA, mounted a campaign for animal decency, demanding that horses and dogs, for example, be fitted with underwear. A decade later, a man called Omar initiated a school for beggars. Avoiding facial recognition, he was mostly known for wearing a mask and carrying his infamous cigar when appearing in public. At that time, the media’s influence on society was still limited and stories such as these easily got national media coverage. This provided a perfect possibility for “Hoaxer” Alan Abel to develop a career full of “invisible” actions that grew along with the media. With various collaborations, Abel has succeeded to provoke and question the power of the media from throughout the fifties up until today.

September 19, 1979, a drunken guy, named Tony Clifton, appeared as a guest on the Dinah Shore Show. The appearance became an “egg-throwing” fiasco and a subsequent court order prevented Clifton from going within 100 feet of Ms. Shore. That same year a man started his reign as World Inter-Gender Champion, challenging woman in the audience to wrestle him for his Championship belt. He also promised to pay 1000 Dollars to any woman who could pin his shoulders to the mat. The man responsible for these types of actions was Andy Kaufman, a stand-up comedian, actor and media prankster. Kaufman, mostly known for his part as Latka in the popular comedy series taxi, pushed the boundaries of media entertainment by constantly staging and re-staging situations that were perceived to be real. Contrary to Alan Abel’s practice, Kaufman was extremely visible for his scandalous actions on American television. But, the more Andy lost himself in his “funhouse”, the less interested the audience became. Kaufman as well, became obsessed with the faking of his own death. He contacted the man that, in his eyes, seemed to have succeeded in this: Mister Alan Abel himself. Kaufman was planning to work closely with a mortician, shave his head and die of a rare lung cancer. Andy Kaufman died on May 16th,1984 of a rare lung cancer.

JT, or Jeremiah LeRoy, also known as Terminator was a teenage hustler who had been pimped out as a cross-dressed prostitute by his mother at truck stops throughout the South, until he landed on the streets of San Francisco in the early-to-mid-nineties. A couple going under the name of Astor and Speedie took care of him and introduced him to a psychiatrist who encouraged him to express his emotions on paper. In 1994, a literary phenomenon was born. By the age of 16, JT had been published in Nerve, The New York Press, Spin and other anthologies. A year later, Rinaldi and Dunow at Crown launch the novel Sarah, and in 2001 a collection of short stories that were later turned into a film. By his early twenties JT’s work had been translated into twenty languages, he was making movie deals, and writing the lyrics for the band, Thistle. In 2000, the authenticity of JT was beginning to be questioned (no one had ever seen him, and his interviews were conducted exclusively by phone). JT starts to appear publicly wearing a wig and sunglasses. Madonna, Courtney love and Winona Ryder immediately embraced his notoriety. JT rises to fame.

In February 2006, the scam is revealed in the New York Times: JT Leroy was a fictive character, created by the San-Francisco-based writer Laura Albert. Laura's sister-in-law was JT's public impersonator.

The potential of self-absorption (rehearsal, repeat, reset) focuses on the changes and structures of the media power on American society within the development of time. This development will be discussed through the eyes of these three critical observers by displaying their footage, documentaries, archives and performances. The divided parts in the exhibition will shed light on the set up of each personal platform (rehearsal), its continuation and often repetition for acknowledgement (repeat) and the forms of mythology such as storytelling and legends, which will replace the destruction and revelation of such platform (reset) The myth creates a discourse of new possibilities in which immortal existence, of an identity such as the alter ego, is much stronger than the one we proceed to believe as real. Only self-obsession leads to history.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive publication

The potential of self-absorption (rehearsal, repeat, reset)
A project by Krist Gruijthuijsen