I’ve been making work as Jaakko Pallasvuo since 2011.
A way of producing work, adopting a pseudonym, the supposed freedom of an alternate identity
using the identity of a male ﬁnnish artist allows me to make work I wouldn’t necessarily be able to otherwise — at times a ﬁxed identity feels like a prison, so if I can get outside of the limits of one I don’t have to accept the weakness of one self, or be embarrassed by it, because I always have another one I can use to solve the problem.
…being ﬁnnish based in berlin, center/periphery, how this is something of a fetish within contemporary art
choosing one that slides between center and periphery allows me to examine the advantages and disadvantages of both positions
It’s not necessarily strategic to be admitting this now, as Jaakko’s identity has become recognizable and ﬁxed — other people are writing about him and I’ve been having a guy from Turku pose as him at openings in Berlin, London and Helsinki. No one would believe me now, so suddenly Rebecca LaMarre becomes a liar, a person who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Jaakko’s identity has come to trump my own — the situation is getting out of hand in a way that I can’t fully understand yet.
At any rate, I’m hoping that not having a ﬁxed identity, voice or position to speak from let’s me try to occupy a critical position—
the problem I have with the notion of the artist is that it assumes work is tied to a speciﬁc body, one body that produces bodies of work, usually in one medium.
and since the default understanding of how to exhibit is in a gallery space it quickly becomes a question of which material to use to materialize a dematerialized practice.
Jaakko would hate to talk about the problem that way as it makes it too abstract, so maybe it’s better to talk about it with a practical example …
like a gallery in London that wanted Jaakko’s persona to exhibit, not the idealized space of the internet
my way of thinking through that problem was to have Rebecca LaMarre in the space to guarantee the success of the mediation
using the two characters allows me to start a dialogue, which is really a process of writing.
It lets me think about the formation of an identity as a process of writing, like a script, or a virus, something that can be possessed by anyone or deleted, a script of code, something that can be hacked
This is a narrative that produces value — in the same way that writing a cv or artist statement deﬁnes the way work is able to move through the world
identity becomes a magnet for value and in the case of a dematerialized practice, the value attaches to something abstract rather than to a tangible object. A good example of this is Situationism, and the fact that the National library of France recently purchased the archive of Guy Debord’s work for hundred’s of thousands of Euros to prevent it from being taken overseas to Yale.
Of course this is a far cry from a Detournement. My attempts at sincerity are always hampered by the shadow of ambivalence, which separating my voices allows me to examine — how is it I can sincerely want or express one thing, and simultaneously its exact opposite? If I use one voice for Rebecca and another for Jaakko then I can do precisely that.
It’s also partly to address my ambivalence about identity politics and conversations around a ‘performed identity’ with nothing authentic behind it — Jaakko particularly hates that way of thinking and really tries for an expression of some kind of ‘essential self’, desires a display of his inner being. It’s hard not to feel the futility or the embarrassment of that in the face of such a strong argument otherwise, especially when as soon as you exist on the internet your name becomes an avatar, a thing to be advertised to, a pile of data that ‘demonstrates certain behaviours’.
The presence of these things doesn’t negate the desire, however, so the question becomes how to navigate it, how to complicate the notion of the performed self in so-called social media. Using different personas allows me to articulate that desire from different positions, but then
The ﬁnal difﬁculty of course, is the danger of the problem of Vito Acconci and Bernadette Meyer — in what is now known as Acconci’s early performance work, these ideas of identity and a dialogue between self and other are central, but what happens in life is that Meyer’s contribution to the collaboration is eclipsed.
I’m not even sure if this about ‘expression’, or communication, as clearly I’m just talking with myself, and anything I say about this are in danger of being subsumed by Jaakko’s practice. I’m speaking, but I might disappear as I speak. So as much as I’m investigating dialogue, I also need to acknowledge to competitive aspect of becoming visible, or being audible as a person that speaks.
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