Bruce Thorn

Fantasy Exhibitions

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: DUOLON MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, SHANGHAI, CHINA The 2013 Solo Exhibition of Paintings by Bruce Thorn at the Duolun Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, China is the latest continuation of a conceptual art project begun on March 1st, 2009. This project questions systems of validation and valuation in a time where the physical art object is of minor or negligible significance compared to the media, hype, celebrity, politics and money surrounding art and artists. Photoshop altered images and imaginary exhibitions announcements are sent out, distributed, published on my website and presented as real. The Duolun Exhibition questions the ascension of the virtual world in our lives. With the popularity of Internet social media, it is easy to manufacture a false image or avatar. It is common practice to bend the truth about every aspect of one’s self. Outdated or misleading photos and imagined accomplishments posted to online dating sites aim to attract romance. Facebook gives anyone fifteen minutes of fame and an endless feedback loop of self-promotion. Linkedin creates illusions of professional status. Traditional media routinely present us with photo shopped images, half truths, blatant lies, machine made music, lip synching, reality shows and reenactments. How do we decide what is real or significant?

There are a few new reflections added to the Fantasy Exhibition Series with the Duolun Exhibition. One of these is the elevated position of China to dominant player in the global art market. The new Big Kahuna of professional artistic credibility is to have one’s work exhibited in China. The status of a major opening in New York pales compared to a show in Beijing or Shanghai.

First the West outsourced manufacturing jobs and technology in search of cheap labor and bigger profits. As time marched on, white-collar jobs began to be outsourced. Now the West is outsourcing art production as well. How and why has the West devolved to a situation where support for its own arts, peoples, infrastructure, education, health care and quality of life are no longer politically prominent issues?

Part of the irony and humor intended here plays on popular accusations that China is a blatant abuser of intellectual property rights and patents. Recent claims by the New York Times and the U.S. assert that the Chinese government is involved in massive computer hacking aimed at defense, the media and the corporate world. Currently, the U.S. is claiming that this hacking is originating from a location just outside of Shanghai.

Finally, this project reminds us of the significance of fantasy, dreams and imagination. Can the imagined stand up to the “real”? At times, perhaps the imagined can be more important than the real. Our hopes and dreams motivate us and lead us onwards towards change and progress. Ideas become reality.

More often than not, the only way that we experience art works is either online or in the media. Fantasy Exhibits is a conversation about the importance and integrity of actual art objects and live experiences. It is intended as a call to action for the support of and participation in local cultural communities within the new global village.

Bruce Thorn,


The Fantasy Exhibition Series conscripts conceptual art, appropriation and painting to explore and confront systems of valuation of artists and their work. It asks why works by a relatively small number of artists are valued so highly while the works of other artists have absolutely no market at all. Is value a reflection of intrinsic merits of particular works, the artist’s position in the continuum of history, or the result of elaborative marketing and asset strategies of the wealthy? This will be an ongoing and international investigation.

How can one determine the significance and fair value of art works? Is there such a thing as authenticity in art, or is the whole game a charade? Is the entire art star system a huge bubble on the verge of collapse, a sophisticated Ponzi scheme? Is the public being well served by the current system? Can deserving artists get any exposure in this system, or are they all doomed to obscurity?

Chicago based artist Bruce Thorn appropriates and parodies art world dynamics in the service of raising these questions. By transferring questions of value, authenticity and intrinsic worth from artists and art objects onto museums, galleries, collections and auction houses, we have a new way of looking in from the outside.

The current presentation formats of the Fantasy Exhibition Series are contemporary and populist, existing only in cyberspace via email and documented on small edition (five each) Epson Archival prints. The paintings presented on the Fantasy Exhibition announcements are also presented along with these prints.

Bruce Thorn’s Fantasy Exhibition Series begins with a celebration at the artist’s open studio in Chicago on Sunday, March 1, 2009 to celebrate the first two Fantasy Exhibitions: MOMA, opening May 1st, 2009 and running through Dec. 31, 2009. Sotheby’s, March 13, 2009 Contemporary Art Evening Auction Fantasy has a pre-auction estimate of 9-12 million dollars for the painting “Key Hole.”
-Bruce Thorn, March 1, 2009