For Sale Detail, 2000

Jean Mas
For Sale Detail, 2000
Poster installation


The term "a vendre", for sale, is attached to buildings or apartments in Nice. Written in Arabic and French in Sharjah, Mas will attach the sign to the Museum of Art, to the Biennial itself as if up for sale. Mas' activities came out of a series of works such as "cage of flies"; these were photographic works, the real thing articulated through the indirect relation to theatre, performance and its documents, the side-effects of conceptual art and its dislike of the object. However, there is a nostalgia in the sign, in the rear view of the movement, as if the theatre of art is finalised in the loss of the museum's value; as if no-one would want it. It presumes therefore that in the present-future there will be no need for art. Suppose Mas is right? What happens to the industry that will write up on "a vendre", reconnecting Duchamp to Koons through Magritte and Breton back to Haacke and beyond, to post-critique to institutional hyperrealism, to Baudrillard and Virilio, to the external walls of the museum's ruins of Malraux and Crimp to intellectual paucity in Cioran. And eventually to Mas himself, as presumptuous enough to record his own "inutile" as an artist "a vendre", up for sale, all context and nothing but, and all commerce, of course, what else?

"A vendre" is the final disclosure of (French) colonialism, putting up for sale in the unambiguous, yet ambivalent tongue of 'ecriture blanc' which impoverishes the offer in the instant it is announced, at the cost of imperial defeat and bitter disaffection.

"A vendre" is a variable work of art, more or less intelligible as other than Weiner's po-faced third premise, that the work does not have to be made. The Mas is an always-already-made, yet incomplete as a ready-made transaction. It poses as an infinitive, and as such retains its heat. "A vendre" therefore translates easily anywhere as "Iii bai" in arabic both dismal and hilarious, a testimony to his reason.

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