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Persona Ficta
March 24 – May 26, 2013
→ Hessel Museum of Art
Curated by
  • Cora Fisher
Part of
Exhibition Category
Thesis Exhibitions

Artists: Tania Bruguera & Jota Castro, Kristin Lucas, Dread Scott, and Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento

Persona Ficta presents performances that inhabit formal spaces of law as vehicles for poetic political action, riddling the occupational divides between art and legal practice.

A legal person, or persona ficta, is by definition a proxy, a representational “vehicle” charged with powers to act. In the institutional domains of art and law, the document masquerades as the artist. Taking up this elusive designation of personhood, the exhibition instigates a more nuanced perception of art as immanent threat to power.

Interventions into the space of law, both symbolic and real, allow artists expanded political agency. With gestures ranging from parody to protest, Kristin Lucas, Tania Bruguera, and Dread Scott alter perceptions of what it means to perform by exploiting courtroom procedures and documents. A legal name change allows for self-transformation and plants possible loopholes in the system. A partnership agreement tests the limits of future creative license. A tactical public spectacle leads to both a summons and institutional support for free expression. Adjacent to the exhibition, arts lawyer Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento will perform legal consultations.

These challenges to legal definitions of personhood, partnership, and institutional practice encourage us to reconsider the conditions of performance art in the exhibition space, a civic forum with its own codes and possibilities. Procedure is performative. Bureaucracy is rendered otherwise.