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Performance: Parafacts & Parafictions


Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 6:30-8 pm

EFA Project Space, 323 West 39, 2nd Floor

Join artists Pablo Helguera, and Jimbo Blachly & Lytle Shaw for performance-presentations related to their work in ‘Companion,’ an exhibition curated by REV- on view at EFA Project Space from January 15- March 13, 2010. The performances will be followed by a Q & A session moderated by Marisa Jahn, artist and exhibition curator. 

Art historian Carrie Lambert-Beatty offers a definition of the term ‘parafiction’, a term used to describe an emergent genre of artwork that plays in the overlap between fact and fiction: “Like a paramedic as opposed to a medical doctor, a parafiction is related to but not quite a member of the category of fiction as established in literature and drama. It remains a bit outside. It does not perform its procedures in the hygienic clinics of literature, but has one foot in the field of the real.”  If a 'parafiction' operates in that space between fictional and real, alongside this term we might position a second: a ‘parafact’—an artwork that more stringently draws from the real—but a ‘real’ whose narrative is so curious, exquisite, or implausible so as to call into question its own veracity. Pablo Helguera, and Jimbo Blachly & Lytle Shaw’s performance-presentations engage both of these tacts. In so doing, the artists raise questions about the function of truth and fiction—its bearing on knowledge, ethics, or aesthetic transformation.

Description of the Works
The Temporary Museum of Vaseline in Perth Amboy is the latest iteration of J. Blachly and Lytle Shaw’s ongoing research into the cast of characters known as the ‘Chadwick family.’ While following up leads about missing Chadwick family relics in the New Jersey city, the duo instead stumbled upon the possibility of naturally occurring Vaseline springs in the region. 

Pablo Helguera's What in the World replicates a popular television show from the 1950’s in which artifacts were presented to a team of archaeologists, artists, and aficionados to decipher. Adapting the show’s theatrical conventions for a You Tube generation, Helguera departs from the objects to focus on the eccentric museum staff, positioning the institution itself as the subject of the ethnographic inquiry.

This event will include a special pre-launch presentation of Helguera's new book, What in the World (Jorge Pinto Books, 2010).  What in the World consists of a collection of biographical essays around larger-than-life, and often eccentric individuals who played key roles in the history of the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of the University of Philadelphia.

Jimbo Blachly was born in Orange, NJ in 1961 and moved to New York City in 1990.  He has had solo shows at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, NY and at Esso Gallery, NY. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at Gallery Campo + Campo in Antwerp, Belgium, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY, and the Drawing Center, NY.  Lytle Shaw is a New York-based writer whose books include Low Level Bureaucratic Structures: A Novel (Shark, 1998), Cable Factory 20 (Atelos, 1999), The Lobe (Roof, 2002), and Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie (Iowa UP, 2006).  Since 2004 Shaw has co-edited the Chadwick Family Papers with the artist Jimbo Blachly.

Pablo Helguera (Mexico City, 1971) is a New York based artist who adopts the formats of the lecture, museum display strategies, musical performances and written fiction. Helguera has exhibited or performed at venues such as MoMA, PS1, the Royal College of Art, London; 8th Havana Biennal, PERFORMA 05, Havana; Shedhalle, Zurich; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Brooklyn Museum; MALBA Museum, Buenos Aires; Ex-Teresa Espacio Alternativo, Mexico City; The Bronx Museum; Artists Space, New York; and Sculpture Center, Queens. He has been reviewed in Art in America, Artforum, Frieze, Afterall, and the New York Times, and has received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Creative Capital Grant. He is the author of eight books including The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary ARt Style (2005) and Theatrum Anatomicum (And other Performance Lectures) (2009). He is currently Director of Adult and Academic programs at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Marisa Jahn is an artist, curator and writer who explores, constructs, and intervenes systems. In 2009, with Stephanie Rothenberg and Rachel McIntire, Jahn founded REV- (, a non-profit organization that fosters socially-engaged art, design, and pedagogy.  From 2000-2009, Jahn co-directed “Pond: art, activism, & ideas,” an organization dedicated to experimental public art. Her work has been presented internationally in public spaces, galleries, and museums.  In 2009 Jahn was an artist-in-residence at MIT’s Media Lab, an artist participating in CEC Artslink/Global Art Lab’s project in Tajikistan, and the inaugural curatorial fellow at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. She is the co-editor of the online journal Where We Are Now: Locating Art & Politics in NYC ( and two books—Recipes for an Encounter (Western Front, 2009) and Byproducts: On the Excess of Embedded Art Practices (YYZ Books, 2010). 

At EFA Project Space
Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts
323 West 39th St, 2nd Floor, New York, NY |

Earlier Event: January 15
Exhibition: COMPANION
Later Event: March 2
Screening: A Video Serenade