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Project Details
Funding Scheme : Early Career Scheme
Project Number : 27602320
Project Title(English) : Inventing Lives: Fictional Artistic Practice in the Shadow of Cold War Hollywood 
Project Title(Chinese) : 創造生活:冷戰時期好萊塢陰影中的虛構藝術 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Steinberg, Monica Lee 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : Dr Steinberg, Monica Lee 
Department : School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Institution : The University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Humanities and Arts
Exercise Year : 2020 / 21
Fund Approved : 474,000
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-12-2023
Abstract as per original application
(English/Chinese):
This research project examines how a group of California-based artists used the tools of anonymity, pseudonymity, heteronymity, public persona, biografiction, autobiografiction, and alter ego to critically examine not only the politics of the Cold War Era, but also the discipline of art history itself, which values and analyzes work by connecting a practice to a single, named artist-author or entity. Art historical scholarship has passingly noted the presence of pseudonyms within the art world, yet literature has yet to present a sustained, in-depth study of the larger phenomenon and its social, political, and market-based implications. As I demonstrate, within a 1940s and ’50s era colored by an inflated communist threat—leading to xenophobia, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), loyalty oaths, and the blacklisting of film industry professionals—artists baited and critiqued the paranoia then-gripping California by realizing politically suspicious artworks attributed to fictional artists and secret identities. As political concerns shifted in the 1960s and ’70s to calls for gender and racial equality and anti-Vietnam War protests, artists re-directed the tools of fiction and invention toward frustrating the prevalence of gendered and racial bias and criticizing the rise of celebrity culture and the administrative state. Using undiscussed archival records documenting pseudonymous artistic practices, this project accounts for, writes, and theorizes the history of fabricated authorship and fictional creativity in the United States (and primarily California) during the Cold War Era. The second purpose of this project is to trace how fictitious practices offer an overarching disciplinary critique. Historical discussions of art are built on documentation and archival evidence. Artists on the West Coast manufactured the documentation of ‘lives lived’ while also showing how those lives were fabricated, thus demonstrating the power and the fallibility of nominal identity and biography as interpretative tools. Here, I present two historiographical interventions. First, by showcasing previously undiscussed pseudonymous artworks realized by well-known artists, I demonstrate how the West Coast avant-garde critiqued a commodified art market assigning value according to name-brand. Second, I theorize the many techniques of nominal obfuscation, demonstrating how such tools offered a mechanism for realizing politically contentious artworks within a conservative, racialized, and masculinist environment. The project’s principal objective is to complete a book manuscript offering the first account of pseudonymous artistic practice as a prominent mode of social and political engagement. I also anticipate realizing one additional article which contributes to the fields of art history, legal studies, and American studies.
這個研究項目將分析一群加利福尼亞的藝術家如何通過使用匿名、假名、異名、公眾角色、傳記小說、自傳小說和另我分析,不僅反思了冷戰時期的政治,而且批判了藝術史本身,因為傳統的藝術史通常將一種藝術實踐和單個藝術家或單一實體聯繫起來。藝術史學已經註意到了藝術世界中存在假名,但是既有文獻尚未對這種更普遍的現象及其社會,政治和市場影響進行持續、深入的研究。 我的研究將展示,在1940年代和50年代,共產主義威脅的加劇導致了仇外心理—眾議院成立非美活動調查委員會(the House Un-American Activities Committee,HUAC),受懷疑者被逼迫發「效忠」誓,部分電影業人士被列入黑名單—藝術家將可疑的藝術品歸功於虛構的作者和神秘的身份,從而迷惑和批評當時加州大行其道的政治妄想。在1960年代和70年代,當政治重心轉向呼籲性別與種族平等和反越南戰爭抗議時,藝術家又利用起小說和虛構的手法,打擊盛行的性別和種族偏見,批評興起的名人文化和日漸強勢的行政國家。 通過使用記載假名應用實踐的新歷史檔案,這項研究將冷戰時期美國(主要是加州)偽造身份和虛構創作的歷史進行記錄和理論化。 此研究的第二個目的是追溯虛擬實踐如何提供總體的學科批評。有關藝術史的討論是建立在文獻和檔案證據基礎之上的。美國西海岸的藝術家製造出人們「生活」的檔案,同時也展示了這些生活是如何被創造出來的。因此,他們揭示出名義身份和傳記作為解釋工具既可以十分強大,又可能存在謬誤。在這裡,我將應用兩種歷史學的研究方法。首先,通過揭示知名藝術家的匿名作品鮮有人問津,我將顯示西海岸的前衛藝術家如何批評商業化的藝術市場根據品牌名稱來定作品價值。其次,我將混淆名義的種種技術理論化,說明這些技術如何在保守、種族化和男性主義當道的環境中,為具有政治爭議性的藝術品提供平台。 這個項目的主要目標是完成一本書的手稿。該書將首先介紹匿名藝術實踐如何成為社會和政治參與的重要手段。我還預期完成另一篇論文,並希望該論文對藝術史,法學研究和美國研究有所貢獻。
Research Outcome
Layman's Summary of
Completion Report:
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  SCREEN ID: SCRRM00542