This piece has been realized 9 times. Each realization takes 4 - 5 hours to complete.
The conclusion/resolution of the piece occurs when 101 Forgeries is exhibited in the following fashion:
Any combination of 101 Forgeries drawings are hung on one wall while a projector opposite projects a video documentation of an execution of 101 Forgeries onto the drawings themselves.
As the gallery viewer steps up to examine the drawings closely (which they always do) the viewer casts their silhouette onto the drawing thereby completing the work of art.
Below is the video documentation of an execution at Wooster st., NYC on August 16, 2006.
101 Forgeries is a meditation on the function, purpose, meaning, and definition of art - as well as the nature and meaning of an individual’s identity.
The piece is realized in a public place as we ask passersby if they would “forge” Keegan’s signature on a large sheet of paper (Arches). The willing participant then does their best (or not) to replicate Keegan’s signature as modeled on a separate piece of paper. We do this 104 times and ask the last participant to choose four forgeries that they disapprove of, for whatever reason, and cross them out. Finally Keegan then does his best to accurately forge his own signature (working from the original model) at the top of the sheet. We produce a 15 minute (approx.) video document of the realization of each execution.
We view this work of art and its execution as a vehicle for prompting the consideration of the purpose, function, meaning and vocabulary of contemporary art in general and drawing in particular.
101 Forgeries is about many things: concept, process, temporality, performance, community, absurdity and humor in art, drawing, irony, the philosophy and meaning of art, and most obviously the often egotistical nature of artistic endeavors.
Concept: the ideas behind the piece are more important to the artists than the finished product itself.
Process: the process of building the final drawing is critical to the realization of the piece and, to the artists, of greater importance than the finished product itself.
Temporality: two of three aspects of the work exist only temporarily, the original execution on the "street" and the final realization in the "gallery." Meanwhile, the drawing on paper persists through time.
Performance: the artists are players in that they are inter “acting” directly with their audience as the audience participates in the completion of the work.
Community: people are brought together and collaborate on a common goal (the creation of a work of art) in a public space, reminding ourselves of our interconnectedness.
Humor: as serious as this piece is, why would anyone ask another person to forge their own signature? Where is the logic in that? It is an absurd notion!
Drawing: is a sheet of paper with 105 forgeries, with four forgeries crossed out, really a drawing? Is it a drawing if 105 people participate in creating it?
Irony: among other things there is the obvious irony of the artist “forging” his own signature at the end of the piece.
Philosophy of art: the piece is a metaphor for, and a direct example of, the argument put forth by Marcel Duchamp, so many years ago, that it is the audience that ultimately completes the work of art. An issue argued among artists even to this day. Then there is the metaphor of the last participant actually critiquing the work by “crossing out” four forgeries that they disapprove of. This addresses the issue of “beauty in the eye of the beholder.”
Egotism: Artists have been accused of being self absorbed on more than one occasion and the obvious egocentric nature of this piece isn’t easily missed.
Perhaps the most significant question raised by this piece is that of a person’s identity. What is identity and how is it expressed? We all have unique identities and we all have unique signatures and our signature is our projection of our unique identity to the world. And yet, we have found that people are often willing to give up their unique identity, at least for a few moments, and assume someone else’s identity “in the name of art.” Why?