September 27, 2006


A friend of mine is a successful photographer known for doing a certain kind of work... large format cameras, spectacular handmade black and white prints using obscure processes, etc... He's an obsessive photographer who shoots in other styles, but his other work some digital, some shot on 35 clashes in theme and style with his classy 'brand.' To avoid sullying his good name he created an alternate persona and started showing the alternate work under that name. All contact with the outside world is through associates in on the joke. As part of the joke he invited several other photographers to shoot in the style of the alternate persona to create a body of work. The problem is the alternate persona has been successful. The work has sold, been in shows, etc. Dealers and collectors want to meet the artist. The artist always refuses and the refusals of course serve to enhance his popularity. Now an important magazine has asked to interview the artist. The question is what to do. Do the interview and risk a slip up, continue to be mysteriously unavailable and continue the joke, or spill the beans and risk lonelygirl15 type resentment?

posted at 03:10 AM by raul

Filed under: photography


09/27/06 05:25 AM

Is there a link to the alternate persona's work? Love to see it.

09/27/06 10:14 AM

I'd find a way to do the interview. It could be fun to keep on impersonating this alter-ego. Would it work over the phone?

09/27/06 10:15 AM

I don't know who lonelygirl15 is, but I vote for keeping the secret a secret. It's especially great if the alternate persona is, in fact, a collective. Perhaps the time has come to hire a stand-in to do the interview. Alternately, the persona could demand an online interview. I just see no reason to spill the beans.

09/27/06 03:10 PM

a "friend", huh?

09/27/06 03:49 PM

Hey I wish it was me... but no.

09/27/06 04:33 PM

The author formerly known as JT Leroy is still getting interviews--like in the current issue of the Paris Review--so perhaps drum up some outlandish antics just prior to revealing the alternate personality and then go down in notoriety?

Warhol was always adopting new personas. Doesn't seem to have hurt him either.

09/27/06 05:21 PM

Perhaps it's time to don Lucha Libre costumes and make the interview a real show?

09/28/06 01:30 AM

if it's a joke, they should let on at some point before it becomes a serious exploitation of trust. the artist could do some real damage to his or her "brand" if people feel manipulated and played instead of cleverly punked. no one, particularly someone who's invested money or time and emotion in support of an artist, likes to be made a fool of.

if the artist has told even one person (which he/she obviously has) the truth will eventually come out. better to have control of when and how it does.

09/28/06 10:30 AM

Uhm, how 'bout honesty for a change, what with this infinite landscape of dishonesty that surrounds us daily. What a luxury to be successful twice. Funny - perhaps honesty has become merely a conceptual act.

09/28/06 11:45 AM

For what it's worth my suggestion has been to expose the fictional photographer as such but not revealing who the actual photographer is. This way if buyers or dealers invest time and money in the work they know what they are getting into and can, perhaps, have a bit of fun with the mystery. Because the content of the fictional photographer's work is somewhat graphic and at odds with the photographer's known body of work and potentially damaging to his reputation I don't think he should out himself if he doesn't want to. The fact the several photographers have worked on the project I think should be of no consequence if everyone knows the creation is a fiction.

10/06/06 01:24 PM

Raul, your suggestion sounds good to me. Honest, but keeps the mystery. Ok, I'm off to have lunch with J.D. Salinger a/k/a Judy Bloom.

05/25/07 05:14 AM

Please check out my current exhibition Love, Bytes & Soccer at The Photograhphers Gallery za in Cape Town South Africa.

Add your thoughts: