3 October – 8 November 2003
Lisa Boumstein-Smalley, Brian Bress, Aline Cautis, Rutherford Chang, Yuichiro
Nishizawa, Sze Lin Pang, Matthew Rich, Skylar Smith
The moment the doors open to the public our Agenda sweeps incriminating
documents from the table, shushes its accomplices, triggers a diversion,
and amidst the commotion, tiptoes among shadows into the closet. It remains
throughout the exhibition—always on the premises, inherent in the
artwork—denying, sweating, twitching and tugging at its tight collar,
inadvertently disclosing to the audience that all is not as it seems. But
try as it might—ideally, until exhibition’s—the Agenda
cannot outwit, side-step or overwhelm an alert audience for anything purposefully
hidden inevitably leaves a trail recounting its travels.
Upon first hearing
it, the phrase Hidden Agenda carries negative connotations. It’s an
artifice, a ploy or ruse. The perpetrator obscures meaning within a calculated
fog of subliminal misdirection, bombarding their victims with coded language,
false images and misconceptions meant to humble a victim’s capacity
to discern reality. But in forsaking a more straightforward approach, the
perpetrator becomes equally entangled in the subterfuge. Truth collapses
into a state of amnesia.
Whether we perceive it or not though, a line has two sides, a negative a
positive, and so then a Hidden Agenda its own virtuous opposite. Rather
than deceive, it enlightens. What is backwards becomes informative, nurturing
fertility and elasticity of the mind. Though not offering easy solutions,
it circumvents opposing intentions by soliciting a higher form of thought
from potential victims seeking to yank reality from their unlit cognizance.
The Hidden Agenda then, favors the victim in ways as troublesome to perceive
as the perpetrator’s true intent.
If all art has a Hidden Agenda, then why feign otherwise? The gallery and
the exhibiting artists admit: what appears in one guise in actuality represents
a differing reality. A duality prevails—a straightforward approach
to the hidden—to lure the audience into a deeper engagement with the
art, to provoke second and third glances, to find meaning that stands in
opposition to what is obvious. Hidden Agenda’s Art exists not solely
as a tangible medium, but in the space between the work and the viewer.
Here critical thought deciphers and formulates subjective arguments. It
presupposes that artistic purpose may never be realized, knowing interpretation
is partially based upon previously held beliefs of the individual and further
distorted by the exhibiting venue. Art is the collaboration between three:
artist, gallery and audience. Each trade roles, make and break alliances,
become perpetrator, victim, and mediator in cyclical fashion, all affecting
the works via personal interpretation. The final result may be completely
other than what each collaborator set out to achieve, but one should not
think any less profound.