All those material inclinations and brutal appetites, which oppose with so much obstinacy and vehemence the practice of good, the soul is freed from through the aesthetic taste; and in their place, it implants in us nobler and gentler inclinations, which draw nearer to order, to harmony, and to perfection…
–F. Schiller, The Moral Utility of Aesthetic Manners

Considering the far-reaching applications of image maintenance today, what better place to confront the indeterminate frisson of the contemporary arts – and bourgeois notions of cultural value – than in the space of the salon? Here, in the Bed-Stuy BID, this intimate and rarefied space is taken to be pedagogical, dialogical, pleasurable, potentially transformative. Forget the non-exclusive audience; the UNISEX SALON is our non-exclusive paradigm, operating along lines parallel to art’s market economy without betraying the grace of creative expression or the dignity of elevated feeling, uninhibited by fe/male dualism and retrograde taste. In the cosmetic world, skill and genius are required in equal measure for survival; selling is not inevitably selling out. The ephemerality of material forms – plaits, extensions and acrylic nails in two-to-four week cycles – interlace biological features and synthetic invention, yielding fluid identities unhinged from mainstream representation and generic desire. Beauty is in the being of the whatever-singularity, reflecting back to each gaze a different look.

If the Salon des Refusés encouraged the modern artists to experiment with the boundaries of stylistic classification, then this salon of acquiescence staged for the second iteration of M/L Artspace similarly breaks the hermetic seal on the lame aesthetic hegemony of the so-called high arts, and in doing so, lays the groundwork for a latent political project cutting across class and gender lines. Why not reconfigure the Wages for Housework Campaign to address the endemic social demands of 21st Century image production, a category of living not only confined to art?

This is hard work, so look your best in solidarity. Get nailed: come correct.

Kari Rittenbach



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Material After Lazzarato: Are We Working Yet?

Last month’s hot-ticket art history conference in London was, like a number of Modernist artworks, officially ‘Untitled’. An accompanying parenthetical helpfully aided the viewer’s interpretation of the events which subsequently took place; in this case the subject matter squeamishly embraced by the robust roster of panelists was ‘Labour’ [sic]. Organized by Lauren Rotenberg and TJ Demos of University College London and Tate’s Nora Razian, by 6.30 pm on Saturday March 17 the half-day symposium had… [read more »]