Any resemblance to existing persons is purely coincidental || Stories of Mr. Wood

Start at 12 o’clock in the best known park in town. Wait till you see a man holding a newspaper; this is Mr. Wood. Follow him while taking pictures.

Martine Stig and Vanessa van Dam’s artists’ book Any Resemblance to Existing Persons is Purely Coincidental (Stories of Mr. Wood) presents the method for and records of the search of Mr. Wood in L.A. and Mr. Wood in Bombay. Combining a variety of materials (maps, interviews, notes and photographs), this interdisciplinary project elaborated by Dutch designer Vanessa van Dam and photographer Martine Stig invite the viewer to reflect on the constructed nature of identity, its relation to media and urban geography.

Somewhere in between an alternative travel guide, a manual for writing film scenarios and a criminal investigation method, the book Any Resemblance to Existing Persons is Purely Coincidental (Stories of Mr. Wood) aims at providing its users with a tool for mapping alternative urban routes and inventing personae that, in their turn highlight the absurd and absolute nature of the very concept of border –whether this latter is geographical or of any other kind. As much as film characters are said to be fictitious, to which extent are we sure that our own identity is not in itself a fiction, a construction? As writers and investigators do, isn’t everybody constantly inventing stories and narratives that make sense of the world and of others? And what is the existential price the Other pays for existing as an entity conceptually unbound to one’s own identity? On the other hand, in an increasingly global environment, the city has become most people’s natural background. Yet, the question asked by Stig and van Dam would be less “In which city are we living?” than “Which city are we allowing to exist? What kind of city is living through us?” Together Stig and van Dam challenge categorial notions of genres, realities and identities in order to insinuate the possibility of change. For, if we acknowledge our responsibility in creating our own reality, we might as well feel empowered to change it.

-Any Resemblance to Existing Persons is Purely Coincidental

-Catherine Somzé

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