Paradox Now! Arlington Arts Center June 19 - August 22, 2009
The artists featured in PARADOX NOW! exploit the tension between event and explanation, storytelling and fact. They do so by creating works that mimic forms of cultural production with claims to authority and accuracy—like historical documentary, photojournalism, and museum display. Many of these artists rely on simulation, either creating their own reenactments of familiar events, or interrogating the use of such simulations in our media culture. In the process of untangling all of the hoaxes, misdirections, and flat-out lies included here, viewers may begin to question how they have come to know what they think they know about the world.
All eight of these artists recognize that historical narratives do not simply tell us what has happened before. Instead, these stories tend to rely on the identity of the storyteller, someone who is likely advancing an agenda or attempting to offer moral instruction. Once past events are stripped of the usual synopses and are fully examined in all of their particulars, they tend to resist interpretation. As historian Keith Jenkins once put it: “The past and history float free of each other; they are ages and miles apart.”