CHRONICLES OF AN UN­DER­CO­VER RE­POR­TER FROM PA­RIS TO POR­TO

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What we call “po­li­ti­cal­ly cor­rect” is

a way of thin­king that aims to re- es­ta­blish a ba­lance when the re­la­tion­ship bet­ween two par­ties is won­ky. These past few years there’s been a tar­dy read­just­ment concer­ning the re­pre­sen­ta­tion of fe­male ar­tists in mu­seums and ex­hi­bi­tions. But where the mar­ket is concer­ned, things have a been a bit slo­wer, since du­ring the first six months of 2018 the fi­gures say that, when com­bi­ning the num­ber of sales per ar­tist with the hi­ghest sales prices, the top ran­king wo­man is the Ja­pa­nese ar­tist Yayoi Ku­sa­ma, in 20th place.

This sum­mer, the read­just­ment

ef­fect see­med to be wor­king be­cause ma­ny ex­hi­bi­tions show­ca­sed work by ar­tists from what were tra­di­tio­nal­ly cal­led the “mi­no­ri­ties.” Jean- Mi­chel Bas­quiat, even if he’s a bit of an ea­sy example, will have a large re­tros­pec­tive this au­tumn at the Fon­dat ion Louis Vui t ton. Mo­reo­ver I won­der if this ques­tion of in­tel­lec­tual and po­li­ti­cal “re­ba­lan­cing” pre­ce­ded or fol­lo­wed the fa­shion for de­tox cures that aim to mi­ti­gate the ef fects of aci­di­ty on the bo­dy. These past few years, ma­ny spas and cli­nics have be­gun of­fe­ring the Mayr cure, in­ven­ted by the Aus­trian pro­fes­sor Franz Xa­ver Mayr (1875–1965), who spent his life stu­dying the hu­man di­ges­tive sys­tem. Mayr’s cure aims to re­ba­lance the pH va­lue of our va­rious di­ges­tive tubes, in part by ex­pul­sing toxins through the in­ges­tion of va­rious laxa­tive salts which pro­voke in the pa­tient co­pious and pu­trid diar­rhoea, am­mo­niac-stin­king urine and mal­odo­rous pers­pi­ra­tion. No­ne­the­less it’s a suc­cess! Cin­dy Sher­man is an adept, ha­ving be­come a re­gu­lar at the Lan­se­rhof Te­gern­see in Ba­va­ria, one of the up­mar­ket cli­nics which at­tract the crème de la crème of the art and fa­shion worlds (and the rich in ge­ne­ral, of course). Where the diet is concer­ned, it’s all pret­ty straight­for­ward, since you es­sen­tial­ly eat boi­led po­ta­toes, be­cause they’re al­ka­line. We’ll have to re­main dis­creet about it all though, since the ar­tists, col­lec­tors and gal­le­rists who frequent such es­ta­blish­ments pre­fer to re­main ano­ny­mous. But look around you, they’re there! Art can be dan­ge­rous, as a vi­si­tor to the Ser­ralves Foun­da­tion in Por­to found out to his cost when he fell in­to an ins­tal­la­tion by Anish Ka­poor. The piece, Des­cent in­to Lim­bo (1992), takes the form of a hole in the ground filled with dense pig­ment to pro­duce a trompe- l’oeil ef­fect of both depth and flat­ness. Deep? Flat? You get clo­ser and clo­ser to find out and… bam! Ka­poor and his work ear­ned un­pre­ce­den­ted me­dia co­ve­rage, but what a shame that the big me­dia players are on­ly ever in­ter­es­ted in tri­vial anec­dotes about contem­po­ra­ry art.

By Ni­co­las Trem­bley, pho­to by Jes­si­ca Craig-Mar­tin

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