“The Great” – (Unrealised project)

The Great Denis Routhier is an unrealised multi-media narrative project which explores the contemporary phenomena of truthiness, which the American Dialect Society defines as “the quality of preferring concept or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” For examples see: The Bush administration’s justifications for the war in Iraq; reality TV; and the vast majority of declarations made during political campaigns.”
Concretely, it is a collection of items related to my work as artist which attest to my greatness and success: articles, publications, exhibition paraphernalia and ancillary commercial products derived from my artwork, common to the exhibition boutiques of major museums. Each work or item is essentially a piece of the puzzle, a segment of the overall narrative, a different part of an installation.
Where it delves into trickier territory, is that it represents in no way my actual status or artistic production, except that it tells a story, evolving a narrative built in truncated segments which the viewer is meant to assemble and make of it what they will. Therefore conceptually, it is almost exactly like my “real” current work.
And yet the only true “artwork” on display – the sculptures and paintings featured in the catalogues, posters and so forth – have either never been shown or were created solely as part of the present narrative, some “photoshopped” into existence. The books, keychains, t-shirts, etc, are the actual works – existing only as sculptural/conceptual placebos for a version (or versions) of the truth.
Articles written under different aliases either expound upon the brilliance of paintings in collections of major museums (and not on display in this exhibition), or critique my sculptural work as that of a charlatan or a fraud (yet is shown only in staged photos, on display in museums).
Everything about this show should act as yet another segment which furthers the narrative: press releases written my one of the many fictitious critics created for the project; an opening with red carpet and “performance” featuring a doorman, during which I would perform as my “other, more famous” self (with ego to accompany my status, of course).
It was also my intent to film a trailer for a faux documentary on “The Great Denis Routhier” to be shown as part of the narrative.
My overall intent wasn’t to trick or fool the viewer, but create an alternate universe, a paracosm as a critique of our contemporary culture where greatness can be created via marketing and repetition, without any real depth or substance.
Because, after all, this is an age in which an artist’s perceived persona gives value to his work, and not vice-versa. Whether it is Jeff Koons and his pre-packaged slickness created by employees, Dale Chihuly and his deft marketing and self-promotion, or Kanye West declaring himself a genius and a god (and on and on)… hyperbole is only overstatement until everyone agrees it is true or, more accurately, no one argues that it is not.