M presents ‘Alias’, a group exhibition on a growing phenomenon in recent art history: fictional artists. The exhibition brings together some 80 artworks from national and international public and private collections in an unprecedented display. It will span five galleries. Piece by piece, the works illustrate the strategies contemporary artists use to conflate fiction and reality, and how they confound our perception of the truth.

A fictional artist is more than just a pseudonym. It is the deliberate construction of an artistic persona with an invented biography that differs, to a greater or lesser extent, from the creator’s own. Moreover, fictional artists can equally well constitute a collective – just as the artists who invent them can have both individual and collective identities.

The exhibition explores the parafictional strategies used by contemporary artists: from fabricated names to portraits, to inventing biographies, anti-dating artworks and establishing alternative commercial mechanisms. How do they generate new identities? How do they question the status quo of existing systems?

‘Alias’ uncovers a variety of motivations, as artists can have numerous reasons for wanting to consistently and systematically erase the traces of their true identity. These can revolve around humour or escapism, criticism, resistance, or a quest for absolute freedom. By hiding their identity, artists can liberate themselves from gender or cultural issues, art world rules and the capitalist system that turns names into brands. This creates space for creativity and subversion.

'Alias' brings together the following artists: Eleanora Antinova / Jakup Auce / Mary Aurory / Bernadette Corporation / Vern Blosum / Deborah Bowmann / Roberta Breitmore / The Bruce High Quality Foundation / Yoon-Ja Choi & Paul Devautour / Henry Codax / John Doe Company / John Dogg / Aston Ernest / Emily Feather / Claire Fontaine / Lucie Fontaine / Justine Frank / Irwin Green / Florence Hasard / janez janša janez janša janez janša / Jim Jilborn / Alfred Johansen / Leo Josefstein / Darko Maver / Brian O’Doherty / N.V. Panneel / Oksana Pasaiko / Puppies Puppies / Charles Rosenthal / Herman Smit / Reena Spaulings / Santo Sterne / Ernest T. / Philippe Thomas / Suha Traboulsi / Hubert Van Es / Storm van Helsing / Various Artists / Hennessy Youngman.

With support from the Fernand Willame Foundation, M will publish a publication in conjunction with the exhibition.

Curator: Valerie Verhack