Article

Getting Rid of Ourselves exhibition disrupts the personal brand

Untitled (Tennis Balls) by Claire Fontaine. Image courtesy Onsite [at] OCAD U.
Untitled (Tennis Balls) by Claire Fontaine. Image courtesy Onsite [at] OCAD U.

“Today more than ever, artists and arts professionals are under pressure to build their personal reputations and capitalize on their social relationships. Networking, CV building and being seen at the right events around the globe with the right people, we must constantly promote the brand called You.” Helena Reckitt, curator

What was your most recent status update on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr? Did it reflect your personal brand as an artist? Were you trying to represent yourself? Do you feel pressure to create and maintain a certain identity online? If you’ve ever asked yourself what authorship and identity mean for an artist in the social media era, the Getting Rid of Ourselves exhibition on Onsite [at] OCAD U may disrupt some of your assumptions (and/or amuse you).  

“In a prestigious field of contemporary art, where a steady stream of workers, interns and volunteers seems prepared to labour for low or even no wages, the notion that work is its own reward has led to dangerous levels of exploitation and self-exploitation.”

Stepping into the Getting Rid of Ourselves exhibition is like entering oppositeland. The exhibition rejects our contemporary expectations of artists, their work, markers of authenticity and shows no investment in what Helena Reckitt, the curator of the exhibition, calls the stock of “heroic artistic self-expression.” Instead, we see work that obscures, delegates, distributes or withdraws the conventional signs of authorship and artistic subjectivity.

The Paris-based collective artist Claire Fontaine presents “Untitled,” an installation of tennis balls with small slits or mouths that hold smuggled prisoner contraband (and yes, their placement on the gallery floor is designed to trip you and add an element of instability to the installation). 

Heath Bunting’s “Identity Bureau, Transferrable Synthetic British Natural Person” comprises library and travel cards to create legal evidence of a fabricated identity.

Janez Janša, Janez Janša and Janez Janša, who changed their names to that of the Slovenian Prime Minister, question the role of the artist’s name in building reputation and cultural capital in a video in which they show proof of their political, financial and legal identities.

Jesse Darling’s “Darling’s Room With Lyrics [Karaoke Vape Version RAW]” is a video adaptation of “Marvin’s Room” by R&B singer Drake that includes personal text messages as a forum for the performance of self. A live mic in the gallery encourages others to sing along.

Together, the installations by the 11 artists and artist collectives in Getting Rid of Ourselves explore how desires and subjectivities can be directed away from work:

“In order to recover life’s liberating vitality, they explore the need for us to stop treating our affective worlds and relationships as commodities. Only then can we halt work’s steady seepage into our every moment and relationship, and figure out what it really means to get a life.”

Getting Rid of Ourselves runs until October 11.

Quotes excerpted from Helena Reckitt’s essay, “Getting Rid of Ourselves.” Visit the gallery for a copy of the full text.

Find out more

Upcoming events as part of Getting Rid of Ourselves 

Helena Reckitt 

Onsite [at] OCAD U 




Untitled (Tennis Balls) by Claire Fontaine. Image courtesy Onsite [at] OCAD U.

“Today more than ever, artists and arts professionals are under pressure to build their personal reputations and capitalize on their social relationships. Networking, CV building and being seen at the right events around the globe with the right people, we must constantly promote the brand called You.” Helena Reckitt, curator

What was your most recent status update on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr? Did it reflect your personal brand as an artist? Were you trying to represent yourself? Do you feel pressure to create and maintain a certain identity online? If you’ve ever asked yourself what authorship and identity mean for an artist in the social media era, the Getting Rid of Ourselves exhibition on Onsite [at] OCAD U may disrupt some of your assumptions (and/or amuse you).  

“In a prestigious field of contemporary art, where a steady stream of workers, interns and volunteers seems prepared to labour for low or even no wages, the notion that work is its own reward has led to dangerous levels of exploitation and self-exploitation.”

Stepping into the Getting Rid of Ourselves exhibition is like entering oppositeland. The exhibition rejects our contemporary expectations of artists, their work, markers of authenticity and shows no investment in what Helena Reckitt, the curator of the exhibition, calls the stock of “heroic artistic self-expression.” Instead, we see work that obscures, delegates, distributes or withdraws the conventional signs of authorship and artistic subjectivity.

The Paris-based collective artist Claire Fontaine presents “Untitled,” an installation of tennis balls with small slits or mouths that hold smuggled prisoner contraband (and yes, their placement on the gallery floor is designed to trip you and add an element of instability to the installation). 

Heath Bunting’s “Identity Bureau, Transferrable Synthetic British Natural Person” comprises library and travel cards to create legal evidence of a fabricated identity.

Janez Janša, Janez Janša and Janez Janša, who changed their names to that of the Slovenian Prime Minister, question the role of the artist’s name in building reputation and cultural capital in a video in which they show proof of their political, financial and legal identities.

Jesse Darling’s “Darling’s Room With Lyrics [Karaoke Vape Version RAW]” is a video adaptation of “Marvin’s Room” by R&B singer Drake that includes personal text messages as a forum for the performance of self. A live mic in the gallery encourages others to sing along.

Together, the installations by the 11 artists and artist collectives in Getting Rid of Ourselves explore how desires and subjectivities can be directed away from work:

“In order to recover life’s liberating vitality, they explore the need for us to stop treating our affective worlds and relationships as commodities. Only then can we halt work’s steady seepage into our every moment and relationship, and figure out what it really means to get a life.”

Getting Rid of Ourselves runs until October 11.

Quotes excerpted from Helena Reckitt’s essay, “Getting Rid of Ourselves.” Visit the gallery for a copy of the full text.

Find out more

Upcoming events as part of Getting Rid of Ourselves 

Helena Reckitt 

Onsite [at] OCAD U