“Est-ce que je peux prendre quelques photos de ces choses sur les murs? Ils ne sont pas de l’ART“, I asked a gallery attendant in bad French at the Nantes Musée des Beaux Arts. They have a no photography policy. “Oui, bien sûr, ils ne sont pas des ŒUVRES“, she replied.

Anton and I had been talking about whether something we’d found on the wall, below, was art or not.

I was sure it was a work of art, and one which fell neatly within the remit of the exhibition we’d come to see, and I thought Anton was being a bit careless to think otherwise. I very much liked the delicate circular line scratched into the wall which suggested a kind of purposeful, necessary, unexplained activity that must have had some hidden personal significance to the whoever had been turning the handle round and round – a handle that juts out of a sealed wall, don’t forget, so presumably it wouldn’t have been able to actually do anything. And the words written on the plastic above it, which sound urgent and which I don’t really understand, brought back the floating feeling I’d enjoyed so much just across the room discovering one of Tatiana Trové’s works from her Bureau d’Activités Implicites.

We found another one on another wall – a variation on a theme – and then another and another –

– each one carefully calibrating or monitoring or overseeing or allowing some activity or response to some potential situation the user might find him or herself in. We eventually concluded that they did not form part of the exhibition itself but rather part of the museum, and that the person turning the handles would not be an artist or another imaginary person, but rather someone like the gallery attendant I spoke to.

The difference this makes is uncertain.

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