"Collaboration" is possibly the most fashionable word in art right now. Heroic single authorship is out; a bunch of artists working toward a common goal is in.
John and Joe Dumbacher have been in fashion since 5:05 p.m. on Oct. 14, 1960. That's when John was born. Joe had hit the scene five minutes earlier. They've been collaborating ever since.
The twins started making art together as preschoolers, they say, around the kitchen table in Indianapolis. They were jointly elected "class artists" for their high school in Huntsville, Ala., where their engineer father had moved the family when he took a job at NASA.
From the first appearance of an abstract painting at Washington's Artomatic show in 1999, to several solo exhibitions (or were they duos?) of minimal sculpture with dealers in Los Angeles and Washington, to two new photographic works now up at Civilian Art Projects in Penn Quarter, all their art has been signed "Joseph Dumbacher John Dumbacher." It's a tag that functions more like one quadruple-barreled name than two separate identities lashed together.
Looking at the brothers, their oneness comes as no surprise. They're only fraternal twins, but you'd swear they were identical. They have precisely the same athletic, 6-foot-something build. They also have the same shoulder-length brown hair. And the same attractive face, just a bit too quirky to be model-handsome.
With the online classified-ad octopus Craigslist fast becoming the first resort for everything from apartment rentals to personal services, it was only a matter of time till contemporary artists began to take note. And now it has happened, with "craigslist," Mar. 21-Apr. 26, 2008, an exhibition of works by four artists who use the "renowned community website as a conceptual component in their artistic practice." The show, jointly presented by Curatorís Office and Civilian Art Projects, both in Washington, D.C., features works by Joseph Dumbacher, John Dumbacher, Jason Horowitz and Jason Zimmerman. The Dumbachers and Horowitz use Craigslist to find models for their photographs, while Zimmerman makes digital photo albums of the sex ads posted on the website.
Curator's Office and Civilian Art Projects have collaborated on the exhibition craigslist at Civilian Art Projects in Washington, DC. On craigslist, users can search for essentially anything, from jobs and jewelry to casual encounters. Each month, the site receives more than 9 billion page views and more than 10 million new images are uploaded. Artists Joseph Dumbacher, John Dumbacher, Jason Horowitz, and Jason Zimmerman use the popular online community as a conceptual catalyst in their investigation of the identity phenomenon in the age of the Internet and how our online personalities generate a new type of portraiture.
The Dumbacher artist team solicits models on the website to meet them and pose for photographic portraits by offering to purchase a movie ticket to a film of the model's choice. The Dumbachers meet them at the theater and photograph them in the low lighting, leaving their faces largely obscured. This allows the viewers to project their own identity onto the sitter. These haunting and shadowy portraits reflect the anonymity of the internet posting and our ability to manipulate our own images and personalities to the point of obscurity.
Jason Horowitz solicits models on the site to come to his studio where they sign a social contract based on physical and emotional comfort levels. He then shoots extreme close-ups of the terrain of the body, creating his own type of anonymous portraiture. With the invasive zoom lens view, Horowitz awakens our own biases about beauty, race, sexuality, body image, and exhibitionism.
Zimmerman uses images obtained from craigslist as his found raw material. He looks for images posted by people who are actively seeking sexual partners or indulging in blatant exposure and exhibitionism. He published an artist book, "The Willing", containing images of people who posted their rape fantasies on the Internet.
An essay by Andrea Pollan, Director of Curator's Office, accompanies the exhibition that will remain at Civilian Art Projects until April 26th.