On the occasion of the publication of Vanessa van Dam and Martine Stig’s book ‘Any Resemblance to Existing Persons is Purely Coincidental ‘ (Stories of Mr. Wood), Motive Gallery is pleased to invite you to a 10 days exhibition consisting in the live search for and creation of a character named Mr. Wood who represents his city, in this specific case, Amsterdam. This operation will be the third of its kind, ‘Stories of Mr. Wood’, the book, respectively presenting 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 graphic 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. The official book launch will take place in the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam on the 18th of October with a conference by cultural critic Norman Klein. The exhibition in Motive Gallery will run from the 15th till the 24th of October. A special edition of the book with original materials will be available at the gallery.

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? Just 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 globalized world, the city has become most people’s natural environment. Yet, the question asked by Van Dam and Stig 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 Van Dam and Stig challenge the usual notions of what constitutes a genre, a reality, and an identity. They do so 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.

The exhibition ‘Any Resemblance to Existing Persons is Purely Coincidental ‘ at Motive Gallery will present the third study case – or sequel - in this series of travels based on Van Dam and Stig’s guide that aims at finding Mr. Wood – this time, in Amsterdam. City-wanderers guests Heather Flood – a urban planner based in L.A. - and artist/ actor Johnny Vivash will be in charge of finding Mr. Wood within the prescribed time-lapse of 10 days, the exact duration of the gallery exhibition. In fact, the very show will take shape as their inquiry will progress. Gradually, the – upon opening - empty walls of the gallery will be filled up with photographs, notes and other documents that record Heather and Johnny’s search. To complete this on-going experience, a beamer will transmit live fragments of their trip that, in their turn, will be broadcast online via ‘Bliin’, a website for live location-based blogging and monitoring. Like the multiplicity of discourses that inform the project – somewhere in between a travel guide, a writing manual and a criminal investigation - its real-time follow-up and chosen presentation stem for what might as well constitute the most inspiring feature of Vanessa van Dam and Martine Stig’s endeavor: its hybrid and experimental breadth.

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