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FIAC 2012 in Paris – art outdoors and the party inside


Like Birnam Wood the FIAC is approaching my door. Thanks to offsite/outdoor installations it is possibe to experience the FIAC further and further afield from the Grand Palais, the pit of a giant  art fruit that falls onto Paris and  ripens and burst every October. ( I have to wonder, sometimes, if God didn’t ask Adam & Eve not to look at something way back when in the Garden of Eden?). The Parisian outdoors are recolonised as the gardens of Paris become galleries and squares become stages. We aren’t looking at Land Art  ( No artist has yet to dig up Paris) but we are seeing transient transformations of the cityscape with images and objects.

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Bubbles Family. Too big to suck on. Dommage!


I knew something was afoot when I was heading over to the market for raw food last week. There were black German luxury sedans speeding around or parked in double file in front of art hotspots. (Come to think of it, I think that next year I will follow those cars and do a papparrazzi take for you). Then I saw some outdoor installations decorating the city like Fall, or Xmas.

A walk through the Tuileries confirmed this. In addition to the usual work on offer:

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Plan for new city center in Pyongang.

There was this that no one dared sit on:

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Jeppe Hein. Modified Social Benches.


FIAC’s brief claim of emminent domain on the public gardens charged all of the pre-existing signs and objects in those gardens with the possibility of new meaning and a new identity as art. Take, for example, the sign below. It is  a perennial lawn sign which, for me, became part of the FIAC just like the street hawkers above. Just take a look at that shadow. We can feel bending going on in it. And of course what (else) could that sign mean? “Man Prohibited?” And why is there just one red line instead of an “x”? Is that a pole vaulter? How much more intriguing when something becomes art rather than begotten as art. Yes , this notion leaves my intention flank wide open. Shoot away!

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"Human Migration On Foot Unlawful."

This year most stuff was well cooked. Like a well practiced team everyone knows their positions and takes them  like monuments and statues whose unbolting is unthinkable. Of course I went to Gagosian and the pheromones were such that it felt like an orgy inside of their space. I vaguely recall seeing a Pennoni before succumbing to the intoxication and stumbling out of there. Inside the mothership things were young and edgy enough so that all of the uber young and edgy stuff that used to hang at the periphery could be swept away. Inside the mothership things were young and edgy enough so that this reviewer was bouyed by optimism. Painting seemed to be making a comeback. I kind of fell for this:

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Gert and Uwe Tobias. Zoom in on the bird figure in the foreground.

And this:

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Paint Cake. Glenn Brown.

But this critic has always had a weak spot for construction-based materials and tools of trades that meet each other in the most fragile of circumstances.

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The upper image is a detail. These were pressing against partitions.
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Lara Favaretto.

But by far the most surprising encounter was the one I had with a gallerista working for Hauser and Wirth. Now as a seasoned art veteran of the lower middle class I have no fear upon entering a gallery but what I encountered was so stupefying that I have to ask myself if I shouldn’t be afraid.

Paul McCarthy did a semi-monumental sculpture depicting Gearge Bush Jr. having sex with some pigs amid the wreckage of some kind of studio. I thought that the analogy was awry and  so I asked one of the gallery assistants, in French, what was going on:

Me: “Hi. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about this work?”

Gallerista: “Do you know this artist?”

M: “No,  I don’t think so . .  . .”. (pause) ” So I was just wondering what was going on here, I mean what’s the symbolism or, I don’t know, the allegory?”

I detect an American accent.

M: “Do you speak English, are you American?”

G: “NO” pause

G: “You don’t know the artist’s work?”

M: “Not really.” ( and I don’t really)

G: “It’s Paul McCarthy.”

M: “Oh, OK.”

G: “………”

M: “So?”

G: “Well he likes to play with popular culture…with stuff like Disney characters.”

M:”Oh it’s the Three Little Pigs? GW is messing with the Three Little Pigs?”

G: “Uhm…er nah”

M: “Well, what could that mean then? I’m just looking for an explanation as to why GW is making love to a pig.”

G: ” ……. (semi gesturing)”

M: “So is what you are saying is that there is, like, no hidden message or meaning?”

G: “Right.”

M: “So this is kind of meaningless?”

G: “Yeah.”

M: “OK so there is nothing going on here, it is empty.”

G: “Yes.”

M: “Can I quote you on that?”

G: “Yes.”

Clearly, I was the idiot.

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Paul McCarthy. Bush's nose has been lopped off so that it won't grow if he tells you a lie.

Across the way was a gallerista that was only too happy to tell me that this was a Wim Delvoye. You could probably tell as well. It is reminiscent of Brancusi’s bird but also the Holbein painting of the The Abassadors where a contorting patch of paint shoots into the picture from the bottom left. The blur of paint becomes an intelligible figure only if you place a cylindrical mirror close to it.

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Wim Delvoye.

The current doping scandal involving Lance Armstrong made this piece a meme. Should they introduce drug testing for artists? After all they are in  competition…

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Tete de Velo by Thirry Mouille.

I liked this:

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Thomas Jefferson meets Magritte. "I Have Forgotten My Umbrella" by Allora and Calzadilla.


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We all know someone like this. Flip flops are the new boots.

I saw a photo by Lucinda Freund of James Joyce playing piano.

Then I saw these busts that made me think of Roualt:

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I went to White Cube but there was no “Ooomph” there. The party was at Gagosian’s.

Finally I liked these Goya-esque, Roland Topor-esque watercolors, which were totally obscured by the reflections in the glass of their frames. Let’s give it a shot anyway:

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Oda Jaune as are the following three.
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Oda Jaune. It looks like a bicycliste being pursued by another bicycliste who is on fire.
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Oda Jaune. Confessing to the executioner?
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Oda Jaune

And you can always make a cartoon like this even though we already knew that women were addicted to speed. Let the men make art while women run the world.

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Unique Form of Continuity In High Heels. Francesco Vezzoli