Gaposchk, Anabella [Mariana Tres]

Anabella Gaposchk was a 19th century artist who created photographs that appear to show celestial bodies such as nebulae and galaxies. Her images were actually made through a process of throwing white powders (sugar, baking soda) against a black background. A 2003 exhibition in Portland, Oregon, entitled "Homespun Universe: The Wondrous World ofAnabella Gaposchk" featured not only these photographs, mounted in Victorian-style frames, but also a documentary video on Gaposchk as well as ancillary materials of her life and work, such as a spice rack and correspondence.Anabella Gaposchk, Homespun Universe

The inventive Gaposchk and all the materials of her life are, in turn, the invention of 21st century artist Mariana Tres. The temporally and narratively nested structure of the project--a contemporary artist fabricating an artist of an earlier era, who in turn was fabricating astronomical photographs--is fairly typical of fictive art projects. So also is the use of materials that strongly reference the specified era-- in this case, Victoriana--as a central authenticating device.

In a review of the 2003 exhibition, one critic terms the project a "literary conceit" and goes on to comment approvingly on the rare "visual fortitude" of the show. This comment is interesting in that it underlines the degree to which our culture still views this kind of project as essentially literary (hence the surprise that the visual elements should be so well handled). The evidence of the work itself, however, argues that the visual and narrative elements are co-equal--the hallmark of fictive art. 

Chas Bowie, "Homespun Universe", Portland Mercury, Nov. 27, 2003.