Exactly a week ago whilst I was walking along Quai de Conti, I was attracted by the giant poster of Take Me (I’m Yours) with the design of telephone leaflets one usually see on lamp posts, at the front door of Monnaie de Paris.
Today is its first day of public opening and I was very excited to take whatever wooohoooo!
Take Me (I’m Yours) at Monnaie de Paris followed its success at London Serpentine Gallery 20 years ago. Curated by Christian Boltanski and Hans Ulrich Obrist, now joined by Chiara Parisi, it re-examines the value of art.
As I was queueing at the ticket office, I was briefly reading the booklet about the exhibition. Noticing that I could actually ask for a DVD behind the ticket office from the exhibition booklet, the staff handed me the DVD with an introduction that it consists of 2 videos in it where the more you watch, the more unreadable the DVD would be. Hmmm… interesting. After I got my ticket checked, I realised a room with blue pills dropping every 3 seconds. It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, maybe due to the colour tone…? I grabbed a cup of it, later realised I could actually pop it. I was debating about that as I entered the hall of the exhibition… I was then distracted by the piles and piles of clothes scattered in the hall with people burying their heads under the pile and fitting themselves in their newly found favourites. I was quickly emerged into this atmosphere. Afterall I am a woman, a once shopaholic (still couldn’t resist everytime when I’m at sample sale :P), and this is a take me! take me! exhibition where it encourages audience to participate into the artwork by dispersing it. “I’m just doing what I asked to…” I told myself whilst I held up a nice silk dress (where I later found out it’s made in Italy) and a floral print pajama-like bath robe. At the corner of my eyes I saw some people holding 2 or more copies of the same poster stacking around the same hall. I then proceeded to grab one… Okay… it’s raining today, maybe I should grab 2 more to sandwich the one that I actually want. I repeated this again to another poster I wanted.
I then proceeded to the next room full of postcards of Paris, where it was a beautiful room filled with blue postcards and little statue of the Eiffel tower on a plinth. Audience were less aggressive in this room and started to appreciate the different form of the beauty of Eiffel tower… from different postcards. Along the windows, I saw someone snatching posters from the windows of this room. It started to make me wonder, are people “participating” by taking stuff for the sake of the action of taking? Walter Benjamin slipped into my mind: what the audience doing, with the replication of the artists’ work themselves, lost an aura of the work itself. Rethinking of what I have done in the previous hall, grabbing 2 extra posters which are work of the artist, without appreciating them as art, I used them like wrapping papers… Was it because they are free in a sense that there’s no monetary value in it? It still holds costs, the 8 euros I paid for entrance and the cost of using my energy to carry them back home. I would argue that the exhibition serves with ritual performativity once an audience stepped into it regardless if he or she participate or not in the dispersal of art. Especially with the clothes, it holds a relic value with the change of ownership and when audience started to mess around with the pile of “artwork” to dig out the favourite piece they want.
Okay… mind detoxed when I entered the next room, which it filled with a sea of baby blue candies. There I saw most of the people keeping the “sea” untouched, leaving it in an ambient vibe… The room after is a room of laissez des trucs, prendre des trucs (leave stuff, take stuff), where visitors are invited not only to take stuff but to leave some of their personal stuff on the plinths too. I then placed 2 of my stuff there, could you recognise them?
Then I entered a room with a skeleton placed in the middle cased within a glass box… A very dark themed room… and a what? Photobooth in the middle of another room where visitors are invited to leave their trace here. Take Me (I’m Yours) as escalated to not only visitors taking stuff but leaving and sharing stuff. There are also stencil pencils and marks of “NAU EM I ART BILONG YUMI”, which is “Art belongs to us” from Lawrence Weiner. I saw a bookstore on the right and as I proceed, there were 5 machines selling air for 50 cents. So the show has slightly get back to the monetary model for valuing art, but isn’t 50 cents too few to purchase an art? Or which set of standard would be appropriate if we were to measure the value of art? Is the monetary model the only way art could be “properly” valued? As Yoko Ono’s 50 cent work (Okay it actually has a name but I really couldn’t be bothered to look it up and it is actually a machine selling air captured in bubble capsule. Sorry I never liked Yoko Ono and I am being biased here) and Wiener suggested anything could be art and it belongs to the mass public rather than a prestige group. But I wonder, if art is to be appreciated in such a great mass, and where everyone could grab a cup of it like what we are all doing at Take Me (I’m Yours), I really feel like it has lost its aura and value. Art, for so long, has been worshipped with a ritual value. Art or decorative art were first seen as cave paintings, as oracle script for documentation (sometimes for ritual purposes). Art is also sometimes being valued as the work of God. Art is also used to compliment God. With my biased opinion on Yoko Ono and the behaviour of the other visitors, I really think art has became “something” (note that stress that it is not extraordinary but just too down to earth to something) that has to be re-valued, some of the work I have seen are too casual, too commercial, too gimmicky, too cheap…
Some of the other work in Take Me (I’m Yours) is where the artist urges visitors to select a topic they want to focus on and select what they think is appropriate from the stack of newspaper and collaborate on a pin board in the same room. This leads to a gesture of sharing idea and philosophy from the visitors after “taking” so many stuff from the previous installations and rooms. Next to it was a room with an actor seated on one side of a table where he would trade an object with visitor whom sat on the other side. The trading only succeed depending on their conversation on how they “sell” their objects. At the end getting back to the cloak room for my umbrella, there was a table allowing visitors to create their own kind of money as a token for a free workshop in Monnaie de Paris with a sense of exchange.
Take Me (I’m Yours) has given me a physical insight on what I have learnt in my history of collections and museums class where medieval relics and reliquaries would give a new conceptual insight to modern or contemporary art. From the beginning of the exhibition, where I was acting freely or actually influenced by the actions of the environment in a subtle way to take art, degrading their value in my opinion. As it goes along, the exhibition invites visitor to exchange their items with the artworks and eventually sharing… where I consider as stealing… artists are stealing ideas from visitors to complete their artwork… sometimes it is this participatory and prestige feeling that “wow I am taking part in an artwork” and it might be remarkable and might even got a slice of my participation printed somewhere in a picture in relation to this artist…!