Fabulous fakes

By GREG COOK  |  April 13, 2009

Fake Facebook Greg Cook's style looked like the work of Elaine Bay. The Somervillian distills the style of Web sites, MySpace, and even terrorist videos into bright, crazy, flashy, pointed pop art. In my Phoenix "Year in Review" article for 2008, I called her stuff some of the best art being made around here. She's part of an art collective called the Miracle 5, along with husband Raul Gonzalez, Dave Ortega, Rhonda Ratray (a/k/a Aimée LaPorte), Chris Miller, and assorted others. Critics picked Gonzalez for the top painting prize in the 2008 Boston Art Awards, which I organized. The gang seem about to blow up as the next big thing in town.

I've been friendly with Bay and some of the other Miracles for years. She called when she heard I wasn't amused by Fake Greg Cook; she'd pretended to be me, she said, as part of a project questioning Facebook's usurping of everything people post there. I replied that you don't show that someone's a jerk by pulling jerk moves of your own. Bay said she was sorry I was offended.

One of the proudest traditions of Modernist avant-garde art is freaking out the squares. So we're amused and "challenged" by art like Vito Acconci's Following Piece (1969), in which he picked out random strangers to trail around New York, or Claim (1971), in which he sat blindfolded at the bottom of a gallery stairwell threatening passers-by with a crowbar. His anti-social shenanigans have become canonical. Is today's impostor stuff part of this jerk-art tradition, or is it simply satire, or is it something more pernicious?

"Craig" e-mailed on March 12: "Please don't suggest or write about any more ideas that you don't truly believe in." Maybe "Craig" had a point. I'd encouraged people to hack the ICA, so what right did I have to feel wronged when someone hijacked me? On the other hand, isn't there a difference between hacking an institution and hacking an individual?

"Craig" wrote again the next day to say that Fake Facebook Greg Cook had been created to hack the ICA (unsuccessfully, it seems) and post the video. But Fake Greg Cook had gotten a lot of friend requests, accepted them all "because no one like [sic] rejection," and then sent out the video to clarify that Fake Greg Cook was fake. No hard feelings, etc. But I wasn't sure I could trust "Craig" anymore. If you don't trust someone, can you still be friends?

A crowd packed the reception for Miracle 5's "Holy GJYDhad! New Work by Yassy Goldie" exhibit at Space 242 on March 27. Three women in headscarves and face-hiding veils made from flags (American, Mexican, Canadian), plus revealing black shorts, handed out fake currency to guests. Dozens of paintings, screenprints, drawings, collages, digital prints, flashing videos, assemblage sculpture, and manifestos filled the walls and floor. The style was a melding of Indian-restaurant calendars, B-movie posters, '60s flower-power nostalgia, and teen notebook doodles. There were images of people guzzling GJYD hydrogen peroxide drinks (nothing here revealed that GJYD stands for "Golden Jasmine Yeti Dancers" and/or "girls jumping your dad"), a giant wheeled bull scooping up celebrities, crazy ninja warriors, and everywhere the face of Yassy. He looks something like Yanni.

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