Fascinating encounter with the gallery-owner, collector and editor Eric Fabre – it was an agreeable saunter through the memory-garden of his early years in Paris... or a bit of a zig-zag, since he had studied there but only opened his space in the mid seventies... so different insights and references that painted an interesting picture of the in-between times... Neither -nor, either or... The sixties bubble had somewhat burst, imagination had left the barricades and the first major oil crisis dampened down the economy... the mid seventies were a mix of different tendencies and still it seemed anything was possible.
I must have walked by the his Gallery in the later 70's, when I first reconnoitred Paris, but was more intent on the classic venues at that time – only vaguely interested in current trends... Though subcutaneously I was absorbing all sorts of influences, to be sure... When Eric Fabre presented a sketch of the area from the time he had his gallery it did seem strangely familiar... Names and places bygone and replaced... the rue de Seine always seems to have a combination of recognition and novelty every time I walk down it... Anyway, we were taken back down to a time combining the 70's with precursor-elements of his student years, the backdrop of the Bohème from which Lettrism emerged between fragments of surrealism and dada – backtracking somewhat but none the less following a reasonable digression, seeing as how he too, became aware of the Lettrists by backtracking from the then all-pervasive cinema of Goddard and Guy Debord's Situationism... which is also something I can relate to, having the feeling of going backwards rather than forwards in my investigations... realising only belatedly how much influence is absorbed without really knowing where it comes from... (creating a false sense of originality, which I guess the psyche needs to feed it's ego... do I hear Ben talking?)
Anyway, hop-skipping along between side-walks, we were treated to a fascinating web of references that slowly constructed an image of the times... The 'Bohème' as a grouping of 'artists without works' – avoiding commercial appropriation on the one hand, but thereby keeping below the radar of many an interested public – Big Name culture creating a less-than-optimal environment for the wonderful hotbed of ideas, often only flashing up in short bursts here or there... (I had to think of Filliou's 'genie'...) Of course there are those that can manage both – a career in the commercial gallery circuit as well as the alternative spaces, taking care not to mix too much, but blocking access to more unfortunate talents.. Artist run spaces have a tricky balance to play.
(part 2 soon)