Posted on February 18, 2015
Salon De Fleurus, installation view, New York, 1992-2013. Courtesy of Salon de Fleurus.
Afterall Journal’s recent article ‘The Doorman’ by Our Literal Speed discusses the Salon de Fleurus project The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, on view at 41 Spring Street, New York from 1992–2013. The article describes in third-person, narrative detail the approach and reaction of “an upper-middle-class, straight white man” to the long-term installation, a near-exact replication of the Paris salon of Gertrude Stein. The curator, who doubles as doorman/guide/docent, subtly forces the visitor to reconsider his notions of the boundaries of art/not art and contemporary narratives of art history.
‘Before I go, please tell me if you agree: I believe that recognising art is now the principal experience of art and you cannot any longer really experience art that you had already earlier recognised as art.’ The Doorman’s face retains an unnerving frown of equanimity. The white man assumes that no response is forthcoming. He goes on, ‘I’m planning to write an essay about your practice. I’m looking at ideas of the body, networks and institutionalisation. I’m looking at your creative activity, your re-imaginings of key moments in the history of art.’ He pauses. The Doorman’s face betrays nothing benign, nor hostile. The white man continues, ‘You haven’t been looked at in depth yet,’ he pauses again, glancing downward, ‘— to my knowledge, at least. I believe your work poses genuinely compelling questions not only about historicisation, but also about the author function and the transmission of knowledge.’ The Doorman looks discouraged. He coughs into his arm and says, ‘The biographical model, historical accuracy, causality? Huh? Some people believe these things are important.’ He utters the last sentence with ironic inflection. The Doorman’s eyebrows flicker upward. He says, ‘But what you just saw is not art. It is about art.’
To read the full article, visit Afterall‘s website, here.