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.