An American Art Critic in Paris: a nigtmare with and about John Brunetti

An American Art Critic in Paris: a nigtmare with and about John Brunetti

2001-01-01

>–> Chicago art critic John Brunetti reviews The Truth on Tape, a survey of Daniel Wenk’s art

>>–>riPOSTe: Wenk responds An American Art Critic in Paris: a nightmare with and about John Brunetti Recorded by Daniel Wenk John Brunetti: Eh! Wait…? Where am I? Daniel Wenk: Sorry to wake you, we are in Paris… JB: Paris! DW:…in the Jean Bart on Rue St…. JB: Paris! DW:…Antoine. You know, Jean Bart… JB: I am in Paris! Unbelievable, I have to kiss this floor! (Kneels down) DW: come on, let me… help you up, at your age… JB: Thank you very much. Where is Picasso? DW: Dead. You shouldn’t, really, look - all these cigarettes… JB: (screams) DEAD? What do you mean, an enticing suicide? An impassioned feud? DW: No, No, calm down, just the passage of time. As I’ve tried to tell you: we are in Paris in the Jean Bart on Rue St. Antoine; it’s the 31st of March 2000. JB: 2000? Is the whole Paris art world congregated nowadays in such a shabby place? Where are the alumni? DW: No artists here apart from Achim and me. Just the regulars. The place is doubtless the last normal venue on Rue St. Antoine. Le Marais goes down rapidly, thanks to the art tourists who come looking for atmosphere. They crowd the cafés where 50 years ago artists used to hang out; they stare at each other and pay for a demi what no contemporary could ever afford. I’d rather live around Chateau Rouge, the south side of Paris, but my stipend puts me here. Achim and me - we like the Jean Bart because it sets up some friction. And the name. JB: Name? DW: Jean Bart. You know, like John Barth - the U.S. novelist. A contemporary of Pynchon, Markson, Mathews, Ammons. Barth’s story collection, Lost in the Funhouse, is a classic of postmodernist metafiction: that you cut with scissors from the front page. It reads: “once upon a time there was a story that began”…so by continuing from “began” to “once,” the story loops forever, as if on a turning tape. JB: Never heard of any of them, sorry, I’m from the Visual Arts side. Is there anyone of any stature in here? DW: Me. 193cm, 89 (as in 1789) Kilogrammes. Or, since you may prefer an American standard: 6’4”, 192 lbs. JB: Heh-heh, no. I mean of historic stature. Who are you anyway? DW: Daniel Wenk, you wrote about my book. JB: Ah yes, I recall, it was a little… hmm. I didn’t mean to… DW: Never mind, care for a beer? JB: Yes, thanks. DW: There is Amstel, a dutch brewery, owned by Heineken, the beer is brewed in France. That tells you something about a country: a bar, which carries one local beer and it’s the cheapest! 10 FF at the bar, 14 FF at a table. 4 FF to the guy who has to walk around the counter and carry the beer. Not at all unfair, but of course we want to stand and be able to move around freely. La Liberté. As I’ve said, Amstel is the cheapest… JB: This round is on me. DW:…if someone has an Amstel at the counter he’s certainly not rich. Oh no. JB: Look, I don’t really care, Amstel, Heineken, what’s the difference? DW: Ah yes! Heineken. Of course, it’s the only beer you can get on tap and in the bottle, 14 FF on tap (or 18 FF seated) 20 FF for a bottle. Of course no one would drink out of a bottle at the Zinc. Why would one do such a thing? Heineken is everywhere. Soon, you will go to the tiniest village in Europe and there will be Heineken. Heineken has become the biggest brewery in Europe, squashing everything else and it’s nothing but pisswater. Immense marketing budget, watered-down beer. There is a correlation: What goes into marketing, comes out of the beer. And the beer’s essence, in turn, gets spirited away into marketing. My friend Tim Anderson told me about his latest sojourn in Regensburg: Kneitinger, the local brewery, has been around since 1530 and what do people drink there? Budweiser! They are shipping watery beer over watery salt to Germany! Did you know that there are 684 small independent breweries in Bavaria alone, as the Verband mittelständischer Privatbrauereien (Muenchen) informs me? 684! And Budweiser from the U.S. has of course nothing to do with Budweiser from Budvar in what is today called the Czech Republic. In the mid-1500s, Czech King Ferdinand I… JB: Excuse me, do you mind if I… DW: Just a second. Do you see this Heineken sign with the huge beer bottle printed on it? The people here are not stupid, they’ve erased the word Heineken and now it reads: Formule a 48 FF 1 Steak frites + Verre de Côte du Rhone + 1 Café Ha! They sell Côte du Rhone on a Heineken sign! But there are other possibilities, three to be precise: In the center is Limonade. On tap! (Les Français, ils sont fous…) To the left: Affligem… JB: Actually, I have an appointment… DW:…Affligem is… JB: ‘fraid I must leave, I have to meet significant people in significant places… DW: Wait, Affligem has been brewed in Belgium since 1074, and here it is, going at 14 FF. It says Leffe on the tap and people sometimes still say “un demi Leffe svp.” but…Hey - wait! JB: Leffe, Affligem, whatever - I want to go! Hey! Hands off! Take your…! DW: (Wrestles him down) Affligem! 14 Francs! Listen: Affligem! You don’t even try to pronounce it right! Well then! (takes a large roll of transparent adhesive tape out of his pocket.) JB: Help! DW: (tapes him to the counter) You stay. This is called a Zinc. You know why? JB: Help me! Please! DW: Because it’s made of Zinc. Very easy (tapes JB up while talking). Word and thing are one: The material defines the object. There now, don’t worry, I’ll leave a hole for breathing. Let me just take a swig of my Affligem. Hmmm, I like Affligem, even if I’d prefer to have a Budweiser right now, from Budvar of course… (The bar fills with with artists and gallerists of major reputation and from all generations, each one drinking Amstel and yelling: “we want DAB beer!” People start swinging to Satantango by Bela Tarr. Brunetti is auctioned off and sold to the Louvre, collection Objects d’Art, 1st floor, Richelieu wing, 19th century, Napoleon III dining room). Bottled beers at the Jean Bart on Rue St. Antoine: Buckler 20 FF Desperados 26 FF Adelscott 24 FF Pelforth Brune 20 FF Krick 35 FF (horrible) Gueuze 30 FF Heineken 20 FF (On March 31st, 2000, 1 FF equaled 0,148 USD) (Further responses to Brunetti’s review of The Truth on Tape can be sent to ebr.)