Getting Rid of Ourselves, Catalogue Essay

Reckitt, Helena. 2014. Getting Rid of Ourselves, Catalogue Essay. [Exhibition Catalogue]

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Abstract or Description

Written to accompany the exhibition and public events programme ‘Getting Rid of Ourselves’ (OCAD U Onsite Gallery, Toronto, July 16 2014 - October 11 2014), the catalogue essay explored the aesthetic and political possibilities of obscuring, delegating, withdrawing or complicating the conventional signs of authorship and artistic subjectivity. It focuses on the practices of artists included in the exhibition: Becky Beasley, Adrian Blackwell, Heath Bunting, Jesse Darling, Kajsa Dahlberg, Claire Fontaine, Goldin + Senneby, Janez Janša Janez Janša Janez Janša, and Kernel.

The essay highlights artistic practices that complicate, contest and/or evade conventional markers of authorship as well as entrenched associations between art, self-expression and authenticity. Focusing on artworks in the exhibition, it discusses artistic tactics of anonymity, collectivity, shared authorship, appropriated identities, delegated production, and financial speculation. It details the various conceptual strategies adopted by exhibited artists. These range from mimicking anonymous state and corporate behaviour to surrendering artistic egos and agencies, staging porous relationships with other artists and their works and removing signs of manual and/or affective labour altogether.

Reckitt also considers how her role as a curator can be decentered, destabilized, and made more visible. She discusses how the exhibition blurred certain curatorial and artistic gestures and roles in an effort to perform some of the conditions that the exhibition explored on the level of content.

Drawing on Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s account of “the soul at work,” Reckitt notes how work has seeped into every aspect of our lives. She details how cultural sector labourers are required to invest all their creative, communicative and social faculties in work, and highlights how prosumerist social media operations exacerbate the appropriation of subjective resources. She explores the concept of “human strike,” which was formulated by the “readymade branded artist” Claire Fontaine. Calling for the adoption of forms of behaviour that resist stereotypical roles and expectations, human strike creates a movement of simultaneous “desubjectivisation and resubjectivisation” which enables the emergence of new, less certain and unstable forms of political subjectivity.

Item Type:

Exhibition Catalogue

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



14 July 2014

Event Location:

OCAD U, Canada

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2017 10:22

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:25


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