This book has been produced to accompany the ICA exhibition Double Agent, an exhibition of collaborative projects in which the artists use other people as a medium. All of the works raise questions of performance and authorship, and in particular the issues of ethics and representation that ensue when the artist is no longer the central agent in his or her own work, but operates through a range of individuals, communities, and surrogates.
One of the starting points for the exhibition was the recent and conspicuous rise of interest in performance and performative gestures among con- temporary artists. But today’s generation of artists, unlike their precursors in the 1960s and ’70s, do not necessarily privilege the live moment or their own body. Instead, they engage in mediation, dele- gation, and collaboration — strategies that work to undermine the idea of the authentic or authoritative artist, who is represented instead by a variety of figures. Such strategies can also promote unpredictability and risk, as the artist’s agents may prove to be partial or unreliable. In some instances the use of third parties also raises ethical issues and ques- tions of exploitation.