The idea for the exhibition Pretext: Heteronyms was inspired by the plural
identities or heteronyms invented by the modernist Portuguese poet, Fernando
Pessoa (1888-1935). The heteronyms represented Pessoa’s coterie of
fictional avant-garde writers, characters that would form part of a complex
In Pretext: Heteronyms, 21 contemporary artists have embarked upon a Pessoan
adventure by creating original art works through the inventions of their
own heteronyms. Their tactics have prompted some to change their nationality,
others their language, age or even their gender. Such transfigurations have
offered the artists a space for renewal to rediscover themselves in their
At a time when so much art curatorship emphasises pathology and negation,
this exhibition is unusual in its conviction that experiments with artistic
identity can still yield bold discovery, Artists daring enough to participate
have expanded the frontiers of the heteronymic project into regions of uncertainty
beyond the traditional assumptions of the Self and Other. The familiar protocols
of Curatorship have been abandoned, biography questioned and reinvented and
Heteronyms: A.A.A., R. L. Aret, Joseph Luke Nathaniel Baldwin, Vokh Biely
(Oleg Kalatozov), Rosalind Brodsky, Mary-Anne Clay, Echolalia, Joanne Felix,
Tessi Grabenstein, Red Herring, Prof. Frederico Ieri, Josef, Kaden Rae Mee,
Nikolai Panov or Boris Molchanov, Juan Pesadilla, Josef Schuster, Dan Stone,
Reinhard Villanous and Gerry Windrim.
Exhibition curated by Juliet Steyn (Rear Window), and Richard Appignanesi.
An illustrated catalogue is available. It includes an introduction by Juliet
Steyn and essays by Richard Appignanesi and Stella Santacatterina.