Salon de Salon de Fleurus
Salon de Fleurus
18/03 - 15/05
Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź
Sound adaptation for an exhibition by ICI
It is quite certain that the space of the Salon at Rue de Fleurus, at the time Stein and Toklas were in residence, when canvasses of Picasso, Matisse and Cézanne graced the walls, when those paintings were viewed by Joyce and Pound in person … there is no doubt that the entire space of the salon at this time, in this most original company and accompanied by the most original originals, was filled with art enjoying the status of mere lesser replicas. This art was music. The music was played on phonographs, and had been recorded on vinyl or shellac records decorated with the words “Pathé” or “Odeon” as well as other words informing one that in these unassuming grooves one can find the voice of Mistinguett or of Maurice Chevalier. These texts were beheld by the eyes of Paris’ high society, yet they were just the same texts as those read by other Parisians. By anyone, in fact, who had come into possession of a copy and played their record on any other gramophone located in any other salon. The sounds which fell on the ears of Stein and Pound were just the same as the sounds heard in the houses of lesser-known streets. And they were just the same as the sounds which fall on our ears today, in our homes. We only need to avail ourselves of other copies of those same records, which as it happens is possibIe . You can buy copies. They are by no means cheap, but they are certainly much less expensive than the acquisition of a Matisse or Picasso canvas from Stein’s salon.
The mere vocal presence of Mistinguett or Chevalier at Rue de Fleurus 27, especially in the form of precisely grooved vinyl or shellac, seems a very particular work of art. This artwork announces - in this very salon in the 1920’s, 1920’s and 1930’s - the arrival of the work entitled Salon de Fleurus, dated from the early 1990’s. And this announcement fulfils its own ambition: perhaps the records – copies – played in the salon were already for Stein and her guests in fact more significant and tell them more about the history than the original artworks, whatever those artworks might, properly, be – say, as performed live in concert. If it is true that mere copies might have meant more, it is because fiction was turned by those records into real history and because the listeners were given the space to contemplate and review the past while listening. Perhaps this is why the music could not have been canonised in the Salon – precisely because it had already been canonised before. Questions where, why and how certain narratives about modern music were originated through the salon structure had already found answers in these unassuming records themselves, even before those records reached the music stores from where they progressed to Rue de Fleurus and other streets of pre-war Paris. And if it’s true that the answers to these questions are not very present in the copies of “Mon homme” or “La femme a la rose” which were to be found in the salon, we may still hope that answers will be clearer in the copies found in Salon de Fleurus. These are versions which Stein and her friends could not have listened to because they represent a phonographic “life after life” of the hits of Paris from the time of the Salon, giving us some insight into the period that followed – from the forties until today.