NO SHOW AREA@Little Angels Negative of a Trompe L’oeil The Grand humble Vernissage – Curators : Athanai Excelcis and Percibal Losange
Some shows never happen…Some people never show up. Some shows cave in on arrival, some people too. Some things never see the light. Some of us may see the light, even when it doesn’t show up. Some shows stand against all logic, like comedians on their last leg.
It is a moment of truth…kind of, the show of your royal flush to a bunch of poker face philistines before pub rush hour. We all know where to stick our paintbrushes and whose arse to turn into a priceless trompe-l’oeil. But this had not been the point of the exercise, not an exercise of style, but a sort of practical joke at the wrong end of the Styx.
So the curtains are drawn and a scene rises from an unexpected angle, like an exclamation mark at the beginning of a sentence, or a scaffold before the verdict…not so far fetched. An idea. All “our” interlocutors go nonplussed. Not a possibility, this is the product of a foreign mind…Show up, show down, massacres and shit loads in the wall papered cracks. Some faces one way up, some the other way, but no one knows which. There is no precedent. No point of reference. No theory to back it up. No critic to substantiate it. No landmark venue to prop it up.
What the f…k is it? It ‘s not that funny, not funny at all, it’s not scary, it’s not filthy or corny, not even kitsch or satanic…not classifiable enough to get the saliva running as the tongues unleash their verbose over a glass of red under or over room temperature. We have seen it all, so why bother?
Parades of new gloating comers and departures of the hasty bored. The room they call “the gallery” is empty when it shouldn’t be. The parlour fills up with fag ends and wet handkerchiefs, broken umbrella strewn by the curb, but no one recalls a storm.
Not a dilettante in town to save the day from non-starters just to entertain the materialising social media network. That was a show and a half! What’s the other half? Where is it? Why is it missing? Or am I missing something? Invite all your cyber mates and only meet strangers at the door.
This was not it. It was what it said on the tin. “No Show Area”. No going back. No go area, no rabbits in the hat or fifth ace in the cuff. It should not have shown itself, but left a mark anyway…a question mark that is. How can it be? I mean…a no show? Some will point out the obvious contradiction. We say: “Tongue in cheek”…a tongue rolling under the palate before spreading more ironic confusion. Little red carpet of vanities.
There was no site-specific trick, there was no complicit collaboration of international designers, no small print agent with price tags.
What the hell was it then? And what was there?
A quirk of nature, a wormhole incident, the Bank at the end of the road called Town street, in some town called Ledes, no names, no titles, unknown authors, an empty space, but not quite…walls held on to a few enigmatic signs, as is customary in the context of “a Show” even if it is not one per se, and all this on behalf of all anonymous artists in the shrinking world.
The creator of the idea told the co-curator: “Each artist was unanimous: “I work or I show”.
This later gave rise to the thought of a practical impracticable joke: “Move the finished works in the empty space just arisen out of nowhere, and invent a reason for it to be there for an indeterminate duration. This will not technically constitute a show. “Just a move then?” Like moving earth from one hole to the next and calling it a different unmemorable name: sediments 1, sediments 2 etc. “Let’s advertise the opening for that day and leave it closed until the next.” Yes, this will get rid of undesirables, such as curious cynics” said one of the curators. But what needed to be there? To substantiate the effort either wise quite pointless frankly? A crucial question surely. “The art or the artist?” asked the other curator. It could not be both because they cancelled each other out. Our first curator was adamant: “No Ego show!” The co-curator almost added” In arcadia” Perhaps a hint of an ‘ipso’ floating about like a fleeting impression of déjà vu. But who ever saw what does not show up in the visible spectrum, not even with a long view, long enough to catch a priceless flaw, the extendible telescope Copernicus devised to spy on the backyard business of the pantheon.
The co-curator and his/her ally would invigilate. They stood there side by side like sentinels, in semi darkness each alone in their idea of the moment, staring at the street scene before opening the glass door that signified: “The No-Show might switch to the opposite side”. The probability of such an occurrence was moderately high. Anyone hanging around might be tempted to enter via the exit, since there could be no real entrance to a non-event. Some could postulate this would annul the possibility of an exit on the same basis. What would we exit had we not had a prior interaction with a space of any sort? This sidekick philosophical concern was not included in the “to do” list of the curators who remained staunch pragmatists with a taste for the absurd be it of a superficial kind, more related to the anecdotal than the existential.
A small boy, perhaps 10 years old, ran in and asked excitedly: “ Is this a new shop?” No one here had any idea when the previous retailer had moved on. They left a trace however, that was oddly fitting to the current spatial re-arrangement, its insignia: “Little Angels” still perched above the shop-front. To commemorate it, the curators had collected feathers from the nearby park where a pony was always seen grazing at the end of a long heavy metal chain. One would have been hard pressed to admit any fluttering putti in these parts where ambulances carried a good deal of Cirrhosised livers to the morgue. The mound of feathers was surprisingly conspicuous. Was this a relic from a bygone age or the presage of a new era?
“Yes, answered one of the curators, “An unpredictable shop, anything could turn up any time”. The boy looked even more exited: “Is it gone to be free?”
“Not quite” answered the curator, expecting such a ludicrous question, verging on a request. ”What’s free out there? Other than freeways and back-door entry to creep-shows?” There was nothing to sell, nothing to buy, a desert to the alarmed consumer. “So, yes, almost free.” The only thing you spend here is a bit of your time stepping in and out of a freak accident of culture and waste precious minutes of production looking at stuff that tell a story you don’t give a monkey about.
A bunch of Asian kids burst in and had a fill day with some of the images at hand. They laughed hysterically pointing at some of the more obvious body parts featuring therein. Seeing the degeneration of their mental state, one of the invigilators ushered them out gently. They did not return.
No one thought of taking a feather away as a memento mori, or a symbolic gift as light as…itself. But many of them soon adorned heads and clothing, parading in the air, showered by the impromptu performers, whose interaction had been suddenly redefined by the presence of what pigeons are made of, in part, dropped thereafter on the edge of the counter like used up scratched cards.
It put an uncertain end to an unspectacular display and the curb-mob put the lid on the experiment by breaking into the weak defence of the castle of cards that fell flat, face down.
A few days on, the grubby hub dedicated to the debatable concept of “art democracy” was raided by a five strong gang of “brexit teens” as some foreigners call them. Because here and now, this is it, only chag and dis are on. The intruders charged in unchallenged and wrecked havoc here and there, in the gut of the old Yorkshire bank before pulling out with a hammer picked from the shelves housing a bunch of books that will for ever remain a useless pile of paper to them. They were later hailed as the bright frustrated new generation of natives in search of an identity boost. Peace be with them.
There was our magisterial exit from the meaninglessness of a fake empty space.
And ‘nothing’ to show for it.
Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2018