Ideas rarely come out of thin air. One should be so lucky. Mostly they seep from the gutter, hide in the cracks of pavement, linger around street corners, reflect in neighbours’ windows, in the space between day and night, in shadows resting on window ledges, out of seemingly mundane utterances of strangers walking by, or lie patiently and neatly in lines of a book….
These artworks are part of a series exhibited in Le Salon Scintallant at Moana Project Space – Perth, Western Australia Moana 22 February -17 March 2013 for Gotham Studios silver anniversary.
Extract from catalogue essay by Kate Mullen.
The thirteen artists currently in residence at Gotham Studios have adapted their highly diverse practices for Le Salon Scintillant. Each artist responds to the condition of exhibiting within a codified group show, and of co-habiting a single creative space, with new two-dimensional pieces that remain in keeping with their independent bodies of work.
As a framework for artistic display, the Salon is traditionally Eurocentric, highly conservative and commoditised. Inaugurated in Paris’ opulent art world in the early 17th century–and prevailing as the largest annual art event in western culture well into the Belle Époque–the Salon began as a public art fair in which a jury handpicked artworks for inclusion. A small and exclusive party of men thus mandated the fluctuating tastes and trends of the time. While contemporary art has outgrown many of its restrictive formalities, the Salon remains, in many respects, an interesting model to revisit within a modern context.
The Salon was historically geared toward the public consumption of art, and remains a populist and discursive mode of display. Before the Paris Salon, there was no platform for critical art writing: each exhibition was accompanied by a publication–or gazette–a text that proved instrumental in conceiving the role of the professional art critic. Responsible for the propagation of both social and academic critical dialogues, the Salon is capable of retaining its status as a discursive site within more contemporary incarnations.
As a steadfast and enduring format, the Salon’s mandate of a specific style of art goaded a number of reactionary artistic practices. The avant-garde’s institutional critiques were quickly subsumed into the Salon itself –the Salon des Refusés, or ‘exhibition of rejects’, was a recurring exhibition of artwork that was rejected by the jury of the official Paris Salon. Most famously, Manet unveiled Déjeuner sur l’herbe in the Salon des Refusés of 1863 to a scandalized public, further promoting peripheral discourse and debate. The Salon has thus proven itself to be a surprisingly flexible model, with the capacity to accommodate critique of itself from within itself.
With the removal of fixed prizes and a jury, Le Salon Scintillant’s adaptation of this framework stands as a communicative and celebratory unification of artists, one that favours solidarity over antagonistic competition. In this instance, the conversation is not only a dialogue between artworks, but also a dialogue between artist-run spaces–fittingly, between Western Australia’s oldest and its newest.