James Buckhouse: Serg Riva

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James Buckhouse: Serg Riva
On View Through May 31, 2010

Serg Riva, author of a blog chronicling his privileged yet insecure life as an haute couture swimwear designer, is a fictional persona and art project of Bay Area artist James Buckhouse. You can enjoy the project at the level of a witty send-up of the contemporary fashion world, but there is more going on here. Riva belongs to a long line of artistic noms de plume, from Marcel Duchamp’s alter ego Rrose Sélavy to the 1990s Internet art persona Mouchette. Mouchette demonstrated how authorship and identity are constructed amid the endless masquerade ball of the Internet, and Buckhouse takes us further by unpacking social class and psychological elements of that pastiche. Riva is an aspirational character through which Buckhouse explores how identity is constructed in the slippery class environment of the twenty-first century, where “high” and “low” cultures continue their decades-long slow-motion collision, exemplified today by the couture fashion reality TV show.