17. — 20.10.2019
Press Release: Salon de Normandy by The Community, 2019
It is difficult to unravel the grandeur of a Parisian salon: to cut away the connotations of aristocracy, the academe, the stone-like nudes of French neoclassicist paintings and the unfettered luxury that seeped into every corner of their display. The poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire famously tried: elegantly flaying the mid-nineteenth century editions for their flagrant articulations of bourgeois culture. And later the burgeoning European avant-garde threw down their paintbrushes in disgust: organizing their own, alternative candle-lit gatherings in secrecy.
In the shadow cast by these histories – and, quite literally, in the shadow of the Louvre museum where they began – The Community presents a collaborative salon that disentangles their associated splendour. Occupying the Hotel Normandy – a fin de siècle building currently under renovation, replete with centuries-old stucco, vitrines and marble colonnades – is a sprawling exhibition.
Interrogating the rarefied illusions of the architecture – much of the artists’ work adorns the old laundry rooms, gilded bathrooms and bedrooms, where paint peels from the walls with a ghostly essence that you don’t necessarily always see but rather feel. In the bedrooms on the second floor, you can find exhibitions organised by spaces such as New York’s Auto Body, Paris’s Umwelt PR, the international collective Inner Light and Titanik of Turku, Finland. In between these rooms, Nottingham’s TG have installed in the laundry room. Close by, in one of the mid-renovation rooms, Los Angeles-based The Gallery presents works by artists Zoe Blue M., Megan Plunkett and Amy Yao. Downstairs, in the first floor seminar room, The Community have organised the first solo show of New York-based artist Nick Sethi. And on the ground floor, in the central palazzo ballroom, Foreign & Domestic have split the garderobe in half for an installation piece.
Further subtle, unfurling of the exclusivity once garnered by exhibition spaces occurs through the inclusion of fashion, publishing and music labels. Interspersed throughout The Gallery’s exhibition on the second floor, The Community have selected unique pieces by international, emerging clothing brands, including Femail Forever, Poche and Stress LTD, among others. Nearby, the Paris-based magazine Klima have organised a group exhibition.
Back downstairs, at the end of the first floor corridor, emerging music project Permanent Cuts occupies a now derelict closet. Next door in the main seminar room RareBooksParis have, for the first time publicly, brought together a selection of out-of-print titles, such as archival Comme des Garçons catalogues inside a lit, dining room cabinet. And After 8 Books have set up their shop in the former piano room where you can purchase titles, attend readings and performances. The Berlin-based experimental music label PAN, meanwhile, present a series of screenings in the Palazzo.
Although the contributors’ works are imbued with a political commentary dissonant to the historically esoteric salon, continuity does resurface from the grave. Organised by a collective-run, independent, not-for-profit institution dedicated to artistic cross-pollination in all guises, the Salon de Normandy revivifies the salon as a space for conversation, reflection and above all – a sense of community.
17. — 20.10.2019