Headless Man, Claire Fontaine, 2016
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin
Foto: Guillaume Vieira

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 spanning 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.

In an age of artificial intelligence, fake news and deepfake videos, 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.

By adopting a different identity, artists liberate themselves from gender or cultural issues, from art world rules and a capitalist system that turns names into brands.