In his introduction to Slow Learner, Thomas Pynchon writes “Somewhere I had come up with the notion that one’s personal life had nothing to do with fiction, when the truth, as everyone knows, is nearly the direct opposite.” Avatar brings together a group of artists, writers, and academics to explore how and why characters are created in various narrative forms, with an emphasis on fictionalization as it intersects public and private life. We explore the fictionalized identities that have inhabited art, literature, online virtual worlds, and how fan fiction have been used by their makers to expose and manipulate dominant culture narratives.
The artists and writers gathered together for this panel employ characters to various ends. They take established narratives and willfully misread them, confuse fantasy and representation, invoke and dismantle narrative conventions, lampoon and embrace pop culture. By engaging the panelists in a conversation about the identities that inhabit their works, Avatar explores the ramifications of constructing character. Colleen Asper moderates the discussion, followed by a Q & A with the audience.
Featuring Alex Bag, Delia Brown, Francesca Coppa, Abigail Derecho, Amanda Filipacchi, Kurt Kauper, Leanne Shapton, and Alix Smith.
ALEX BAG was born in New York and received her BFA from Cooper Union in 1991. She has had solo shows at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York; Locust Projects, Miami; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; American Fine Arts, New York; and Emi Fontana Gallery, Milan. Her work combines performance, video, acting, drawing, and installation with distinct humor and an acerbic wit to explore the particular ills and alienations endemic to late capitalist society. She lives and works in New York.
DELIA BROWN grew up in Berkeley and Los Angeles, and received her MFA from UCLA in 2000. She moved to New York in 2003, where she currently lives and works. Primarily known for semi-narrative paintings and drawings with a performative element, she has worked in a range of media including performance, installation, and video. She is represented by D'Amelio Terras in New York, Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles, and Baldwin Gallery in Aspen, Colorado, and has exhibited in galleries and museums in Europe and the U.S. Her next show will be at D'Amelio Terras in May 2008.
FRANCESCA COPPA is Director of Film Studies and Associate Professor of English at Muhlenberg College, where she specializes in dramatic literature and mass media. A media fan, writer, listadmin, archivist, and community moderator as well as a vidder and vid critic, she is a founding member of the Organization For Transformative Works, a nonprofit organization established by fansto serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and culture in its myriad forms.
ABIGAIL DERECHO is a first-year tenure-track faculty member at Columbia College Chicago. She studies digital culture, particularly remix culture (such as sampling, fan fiction, and game mods) with a focus on how minority discourse interconnects with remix production, and writes and produces multimedia theater productions that incorporate video, sound recording, live chats, IMing, and blogs into live stage performances. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern, and her dissertation is "Illegitimate Media: Race, Gender and Censorship in Digital Remix Culture."
AMANADA FILIPACCHI is the author of three novels: Nude Men (Viking/Penguin 1993), Vapor (Carroll & Graf, 1999) and Love Creeps (St. Martin's Press, 2005). Her fiction has been translated into 13 languages. Born in Paris, France, Amanda Filipacchi was educated in both France and the US, and has lived in New York since the age of 17. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.
KURT KAUPER has had solo shows at ACME Gallery in Los Angeles, and Deitch Projects in New York City. He has been included in numerous group exhibitions both in the United States and Europe, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, The Pompidou Center in Paris, and the Kunsthalle Vienna. Kurt Kauper's paintings have, for the past ten years, been images of familiar cultural icons--Opera Divas, Cary Grant, and hockey players--seen in a variety of unfamiliar ways.
LEANNE SHAPTON is the co-founder of J&L Books, a not-for-profit imprint specializing in art and photography books. She has contributed illustrations to a variety of magazines and papers, worked as a designer at the New York Times , and writes a travel column for Elle magazine. Her most recent book is Was She Pretty? , (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux) a book of stories and drawings about jealousy.
ALIX SMITH received her MFA from SVA and has exhibited widely both in the U.S. and Europe. A photographer of psychological depth as well as of class and status, Smith's portraits of friends and acquaintances enact a 21st century theater of manners featuring the urbane, well-heeled set. Smith's stylized photographs are cast squarely in the directorial vein, portraying well-rehearsed identities that sometimes bleed into cliches, the better to point up the truth behind shared stereotypes.