We were in Bercy, in an illycaffè , having the tiaramusu and a tea when I glimpsed the trademark black and white stripes . Situated perfectly behind the cash register was a box featuring a line of four coffee cups and saucers in descending order of size. The collection was from Illy Art Collection by Daniel Buren and had first debuted for sale at that notorious Grand Palais staging on the behalf of Monumenta.
I didn't buy the coffee cups but almost did. For a minute I was swept up in the delirium of that possibility of buying something Buren. That is until I asked myself, exactly what would I be buying. Beyond coffee cups of avant-garde provenance that is.
Talk about cultural production and an entire society devoted to the spectacle of that. Only France could have coughed up a Debord and only France could have emitted a generation that would actually read all of "The Society Of The Spectacle" and take its prescriptions literally. Which is probably why Paris and I get along so well. The gap between the mind's conceits and the body's actions is closer here than anywhere else that I've ever been.
But going back to monumental cultural production and the means to execute it. 2012 has really been Buren's year, from the Monumenta to the coffee cups to the bi-annual pilgrimages to 'Les Deux Plateaux' (1986) that the fashion horde inadvertently makes.
This year the hordes might not have even needed to travel to a Buren , in situ. Buren confronted them in the form of that spectacular Louis Vuitton SS13 show. By way of big budget visual spectacle and meta-ironic art statement , Buren's escalators and check stage played out against Marc Jacobs' defiant obsession with black and white stripes and squares. It shut everybody up, most notably the competition who mistakenly thought LV could ever be an after-thought . More importantly it looped fashion's entrenched haute-bourgeoise consumerist fetish right back to Daniel Buren, THE cultural cypher of the moment.
As the Monumenta 2012 catalogue declared "That writing is an important activity for Daniel Buren is made particularly clear in his collected texts Les Écrits, published in 1991 and then in 2012." In his own body of writing, Buren had declared, “Although visual language is essentially “silent,” we can still talk about it, just as we can talk about a good meal without being fed.”
Funny enough, after Bercy we were walking through the grounds of The Louvre when we stumbled onto that massive LV tent being ..."deconstructed". Whereas only 24 hours before that entire area was swarming with PR hacks and heavy duty security, now that specific courtyard had become a kind of "unconstruction" zone. You could still see the yellow dot lighting on the "ceiling" of the tent. It was a beautiful act of willful obsolescence .
And so if all the dedicated follower of fashion gets out of all that thought and spectacle, all that écriture and production, is a trendy new spin on the Vuitton Damier print, then art has served yet another unanticipated cultural function.
Or you could just get the coffee cups. They are 150 euros.