• Parafictional Artists: Speculations on Contemporary Authorship

    SESSION A: Cosmopolitism
    Day 1. Thursday, 27th October.
    12:00 – 14:00
    Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

    Numerous artists from a broad geographic background are currently exploring their identity as authors through fiction. A search of the term “authorship” in the e-flux digital archive of past press releases provides a quite clear picture of its current status: in the first twenty entries alone, artistic authorship is forfeited, questioned, lost, decentered, challenged, criticized, and refused. In light of this, my working hypothesis is that rather than exploring authorship through critique (a model that seems too well-establish to function as a critique anymore) artists are looking for alternatives in fiction. Fiction, I will argue, produces speculations rather than analysis, and these speculations can become more flexible, ambiguous, and even truthful ways of exploring institutional visibility, political efficacy, or artistic intentionality. However, these speculations can also be misleading, confusing, and contradictory.

    I describe parafictional artists as artists that although do not exist or include levels of fictionality in their identities are able to function as authors. In my talk, I will be discussing two examples of currently active parafictional artists. Donelle Woolford is a New-York based, African-American female artist of changing age that is, nevertheless, the invention of a white, male, university art Professor called Joe Scanlan. Taken its controversial dual nature, Woolford has been considered by some a regressive institutionalized fiction, while for others she is a “liberating” post-identity. In the case of three Slovenian artists that in 2007 officially changed their names to the one of the right-wing Prime Minister of the country, Janez Janša, the question of the political efficacy of this act of over-identification is linked to the confusion over the artists’ stated intentions.

    Emma Brasó
    Royal College of Arts, London

    Emma Brasó (Madrid, 1983) is an art historian and exhibitions curator. She holds a BA in Art History (Universidad Autónoma, Madrid) and a MA in Curatorial Studies (Columbia University, New York). Her writings have appeared in diverse media (ExitExpress, Flash Art). As curator, she has worked with artists such as Gustav Metzger, Andrew Kötting, Ana Prvacki, and Rosana Antolí. In 2012, she was appointed curatorial fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow and organized a six-month cycle of events on art and empathy at the Youth Art Space of Madrid. From October 2013, she is Cultural Programme Curator at University for the Creative Arts, UK. Her current PhD research is focused on the intersection between authorship and fiction.


Department of Art History
Universitat de Barcelona
c/ Montalegre 6-8.
08001 Barcelona

Call for Papers
Organizing Committee

The images for the Art and Speculative Futures conferences are generously provided by artist Regina de Miguel from her video Una Historia Nunca Contada desde Abajo (2016).