Project Description

NOTREALLYTHERE is a five year long, interdisciplinary project that documents the processes through which some people come to be unnoticed. It analyzes the axis of perceptibility/imperceptibility, and how and why it is established and contested, by whom, and under what conditions and circumstances. Being NOTREALLYTHERE will be interrogated as a representational effect, an interactional achievement, a particular subject position, and an affordance: a feature of life that facilitates some actions, ideas and identities, and that encumbers or blocks others. It will complement but also complicate existing theories about how discursive arrangements distribute and influence perception and attention by comparing people who frequently are rendered NOTREALLYTHERE against their will or desire and others who gain greater autonomy or attain certain kinds of professionalism by consciously doing their best to be NOTREALLYTHERE.

Maria Karlsson’s and Måns Wrange’s subproject in NOTREALLYTHERE is called Stealth Artists, and it focuses on contemporary artists who have to conceal their identity in order to either reduce the risk of different types of retaliation, or to propel careers. The project aims to identify, investigate and compare the concealment tactics of a selection of artists from different parts of the world, in relation to risk, responsibility, artistic integrity, aesthetics, ingenuity, politics and public attention. In addition the study will interrogate why and how artists’ invisibility can be generated, and how the art world, and media react to it (e.g. supporting it, working against it, attempting to reveal it, debating it). The study will also pay attention to how the artists’ different kind of anonymities are anchored in, and affect, their art practices as well as their everyday lives. Karlsson and Wrange will analyze a material that consists of interviews with artists (eg. artists that are persecuted, cancelled, or for other reasons working under the radar) and art institution representatives (e.g., curators); art works (exhibited irl and/or digitally); and media presentations (art reviews, news, media debates and controversies).

About the project

Project Duration



ERC Advanced grant (PI: Don Kulick)

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