Jeff Guess, Hypotheses, 2018
10 handwritten poems in the hand of the artist, drawing paper, 21cm x 29cm. An open invitation to the poet Jeff Guess (www.jeffguess.com) to respond with poems that may or may not loosely echo aspects of the artist Jeff Guess’s previous works and/or to the context of this exhibition.
"Maud: So thinking about disappearance, we also come to ideas of doubles and mimicry, Jeff Guess has discovered an Australian poet who’s also named Jeff Guess, and he wrote to him and proposed a collaboration. Our Jeff Guess has offered the other Jeff the show as a platform to show his work, so our Jeff sent elements of his own work to the other Jeff, and asked him for poems he had written that somehow reflected themes present in our Jeff’s practice, along with the themes of the exhibition, and their own inter-Jeff relationship.
Anna: But the Australian Jeff Guess has a very different approach from our Jeff, who in this work is also collapsing the possibility for the public to distinguish between the two artists.
Sébastien: The work reflects on the conventions of authorship, which are very tied to the function of language: they identify and distinguish entities. When things are different but have the same name, these functions of language collapse.
This is also very linked to structures of identity, and the fundamental assumption that we are, each one of us, distinct individuals. All of that is threatened by these homonym exceptions. So in this piece Jeff Guess interposes himself and the other Jeff Guess. This aspect of credulity, or belief, is also played upon between presence and absence, and authentic and imposter.
Anna: How would we know if someone is actually who they say they are? Does having a piece of identification and a name really prove that we are not being deceived or being duped by an imposter? Names do not ensure identity, they merely conceal the slippery and unstable nature of individuality and subjectivity.
Maud: And if we think then about this work in terms of distance and embodiment, we have another aporia, because the body is still there, and the distance is still there. So even as we have this merger between identity and the naming function of language, what remains are the two separate Jeff Guess bodies occupying their own separate spaces."
This text is an excerpt from the performance The Infiltration by Joshua Schwebel whose project was to infiltrate the curators’ position in the exhibition. Read more