„…You have to live out of your own imagination of things, as if there had been no Serge Eisenstein, nor John Ford, nor Jean Renoir or anybody else…“

Orson Welles

 

The project Facing Fame is spread between two rooms, at first nothing seems to bind them thematically. The assumption is, that they are separate exhibitions. Two separate invitations are sent, and two opening speeches are given.

The first room conveys the staging of an exhibition about the life and work’s of U.S. actor and director Orson Welles. Next to set-designs, stage props, costumes and private sketches and pictures, stand’s six large-size black and white film stills. They show motives from films either by, or with Welles: Touch of EvilCitizen Kane, or The Third Man.
Key scenes from these films are shown on monitor’s: The opening sequences of Citizen Kane asks the central question of the film: What type of character is concealed behind the protagonist, the newspaper magnet Charles Foster Kane? In his debut film, Welles broaches the issues of the destruction of a child’s impartiality, and the loss of one’s psychological identity, as a grim tribute to wealth and influence…

The project’s second room seems to be the retrospective of a professional artist of the present. A successful career:  Photo’s show the artist with a group of established friends, trustee’s and politicians. In video recordings, art dealers offer an assessment of his work, the significance of which is also conveyed by the work’s of his artist colleagues displayed in the room: Popular positions of the present, that assume a relationship with the work’s of the artist. However, works of the artist himself are not to be found.
On the contrary, a model of a small apartment is located at the centre of the room. Behind it, six photograph’s picture individual categories of the premises. The picture detail and photocopied objects bring back to mind the black and white film stills in the first room of the project, only the actor is missing. Not far away, he is to be found pictured on the cover of well-known art magazines, which by closer contemplation also appear to have associations with the first room. Evidently, the artist’s resemblance to the historical film icon Welles, is quite startling…

Next to the model, on a monitor, an art dealer is shown talking about an early work of the artist, one in which he is portrayed as a film legend of the 1940`s: The private apartment of the then unknown artist serves as a backdrop for the photographic recorded moments of the dreamed of limelight. In interview, the in seclusion developed debut feature is, due to the allusion to established celebrity, depicted as promising commercial success.
Meanwhile, through the assertions of the art dealer, the authenticity of the exhibits in the Welles exhibition becomes increasingly questionable. More and more the staging in the first room comes across as the work of the artist: Original sequences and stills from film classics seem henceforth imitation, authentic props presume to become profane articles of daily use from the possessions of an art debutant.
The questionable authenticity in the second room suggests an alteration in perception concerning the works of the other artist’s. The popularity of some positions becomes decipherable.

The project Facing Fame attempts to reveal and scrutinize the mechanisms of the establishment and their unreadiness.
In his film Citizen Kane, with reference to the biography of media mogul Randolph Hearst, Orson Welles criticizes and showcases the thought manipulation of 1940`s USA. In the project, Welles’ complaints turn out to be a strategy of the present art market: Against the background of commercial interests, the essence of artistic work, based on original development, presents itself as an anachronism; the significance of a piece of work is dependent on it’s market value, artistic work’s are conveyed as a result of banal coincidence or the replication of the established current art scene. Thereby, depicting the calculated value and reality displacement situation as a farce: With reference to the debut exhibition of the artist, the art dealer being interviewed continues: The scenic and formal perfection of the work and career of the film icon, has given cause to irritation: Time and again the impression arose, he reported, that the Hollywood great actually was…

Amidst the grotesqueness, the artist turns out to be a faceless great: When exiting the second room, a magazine article with a picture is seen, film work on set, a borrowed motive from Citizen Kane, right in the middle the artist. Under the picture is written: “Who was the man behind the icon of the forties?”
An interview with the artist is found next to the picture: He remarks: “You have to live out of your own imagination of things, as if there had been no Serge Eisenstein, nor John Ford, nor Jean Renoir or anybody else!”