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Identity Deception project commissions artist Jamie Crewe

Mon 13 July 2020

Jamie Crewe, An abductress (no. 21) (2018) [digital print on fluorescent paper].

When, if ever, is it appropriate to punish a person pretending to be someone they’re not? This is a central question to Dr Chloë Kennedy’s AHRC Research Leadership Fellow project, ‘Identity Deception: A Critical History,’ and one that will also be explored by Jamie Crewe, the project’s recently commissioned artist.

The project focuses primarily on two areas of identity deception, identity ‘theft’ and intimate deception, and examines how the criminal law is increasingly being used, and is increasingly expected to be used, to penalise this kind of conduct. Tracing legal responses to identity deception from the mid-18th century to the present, the project aims to explore the factors that have shaped these responses and attain a fuller sense of what is at stake in the laws’ transformation(s).

As part of this project, Dr Kennedy will work closely with the artist Jamie Crewe and the University of Edinburgh Art Collection to, as Dr Kennedy explains, “engage with the large and complex themes of the project – such as selfhood, deception, and trust – and to think critically about some of the ways that law constructs and values identity.”

Read more about Dr Kennedy’s AHRC Research Leadership Fellow project

Jamie Crewe is an award-winning artist who has presented several solo exhibitions across the UK. They were recently awarded one of the ten bursaries from Tate Britain in place of this year’s Turner Prize and selected for the British Art Show 9, which will now be opening in ​2021​. In speaking about their recent commission, Jamie said:

“I'm very pleased to have been selected for this opportunity. I've never worked in tandem with an academic research project before, and never with access to the resources of a University, so I'm keen the discover the ways this will challenge, enrich, and provoke my practice. I'm particularly pleased to work alongside Dr Kennedy, whose committed and creative research heartens me, and alongside the Centre for Research Collections, whose sensitive considerations of stewardship and accessibility have already been demonstrated. It's early days, but currently this project has me thinking about justice; about harm; about ordeals of transformation; about stolen pelts; and about holes in the world. I'm excited to see what happens.”

Learn more about Jamie Crewe’s art

In 350 years of collecting, the University of Edinburgh Art Collection has acquired over 8,000 works in a range of materials, spanning pre-First Century to the present day. Its approach to collection has been responsive to innovations in artistic practice, whilst being mindful of changing communities and developments in ethical and collections management standings; making it an excellent centre for such a collaboration between the academic and artistic communities.

Julie-Ann Delaney, Art Collection Curator at the University of Edinburgh, further explained about the project and Jamie’s work:

“The Art Collection is delighted to have had the opportunity to work closely with Chloë on the development of the Identity Deception commission, and on the selection of Jamie as her close collaborator. We have long been admirers of Jamie’s practice, and the work they create will not only be invaluable in expanding the means of communicating the complex and important research that Chloë is undertaking, but it will also have a long lasting legacy and life across teaching and research as part of our 350 year old art collection. This model of engagement between academic and artistic communities is an ideal way to enhance and challenge the work of the University and our collections, as well as to share our resources and encourage vital interdisciplinary thinking.”

Visit the University of Edinburgh Art Collection website

The Research Leadership is due to end at the start of 2022, and the artwork will be shared as part of the project’s research dissemination during teaching, as well as at conferences and public talks. 

Dr Kennedy further said: “…I am thrilled to be collaborating with Jamie, whose creative practice is as thoughtful and nuanced as it is powerful. I hope that working with Jamie will encourage me to think differently about the issues raised by the project, and that the collaboration will allow us to communicate with audiences that more traditional academic 'outputs' tend not to reach.”

Image credit: Jamie Crewe, An abductress (no. 21) (2018) [digital print on fluorescent paper].