i couldn’t believe my luck when we stumbled upon an exhibition of the book of veles in the hague at the beeld and geluid museum. it is an absolutely wonderful project by jonas bendiksen who is a magnum photographer and was the inspirational spark for our trickster exhibition.
veles is a town in macedonia and caught his attention because it was a hub for fake news. there are some many layers that play with fake news in the project. veles is the name of a shapeshifting god. there was an old manuscript of a book of veles that did the rounds but that too proved to be fake. bendiksen taught himself to make avatars in lockdown and photographed empty landscapes in veles and added the characters tor the photos. he fed text on fake news in veles into an ai programme and the text in the book is generated by that artificial intelligence - it too is fake! when the book was published no questions were asked and nobody realised anything about it was fake. In fact it was very well received and he too part in a big festival in paris. shortly after that he wanted the truth to be uncovered so created, you guessed it, a fake account on facebook and twitter raising suspicions about his work until finally some cracks started to appear and then he published this interview with magnum where he reveals all. i have the book and love it.
the exhibition had a section on chloe, the fake twitter account holder, and it was amazing to see the responses to those tweets printed out.
and there was also a montage of the various avatars that jonas had created so you could see how they had been put into the photographs. one of my favourite tricks was the avatar of bears. the god veles shifted shape as a bear so I found that particularly amusing. Presumably readers of the book assumed that you might regularly see bears about town!
absolute genius! one of trickster’s ruses that we came up with for the exhibition was the lucky find so it felt very apt that finding the exhibition in the hague was indeed a lucky find.