For Font's Sake
In Chelsea New York, as one gallery hops, you can't help but notice the large didactic sayings on billboards mounted to the sides of the structure for the old subway line. Patrick Mimran's semi-instructional, quasi-moralizing, nearly-pompous take on the art scene has become a fixture of the Chelsea district where the height of the art world airs 'the latest' and conducts business. Often witty, the bold words presented in a straight-on font and format, subliminally sink into the art world conversation.
As art pieces, they are minimalist in construction and as accessible as the closest copy shop. They are not limited edition, signed prints. There is nothing rarefied about them. They are comments on art rather than art itself and they step even further away from the object by commenting more on the art scene than on art works (which is done with critical writing). The impersonality collects no burrs, no direct slurs coming back at the author with viperous reactive venom. It is a conceptual pinnacle where three degrees of separation from the object bring a commonality of availability to everyone. All it takes to have a piece of Patrick Mimran's work is to be there to see it.
The conversation that results from the sayings can dominate the ongoing perusal of works in the near vicinity, and in this respect the large Chelsea billboard works especially well. As those who have the fortune to purchase walk alongside those who have only the will to see, and their part in the process is leveled. Mimran has spurred a thought, about art and the art world that becomes unavoidable, for he has placed himself in the epicenter. Side stepping juries and validation systems and niggling the minds of a distracted milieu, even his name is memorable, for placed in the bizarre context of a billboard with a message that is not an advertisement, it becomes a signature branding as powerful as a corporate logo.
Patrick Mimran took the premises of Pop and united it with the larger scale formats that went along with the conceptualists. He reversed the art-making that grew out of the visuals on billboards (Rauschenburg and Rosenquist) and brought the commentary back full swing upon itself. The full circle brought back a clip and critical slap as resounding as a white glove on an aristocrat's face. Is it necessary to accept the challenge?
Copyright © 2007, Julie Oakes