Thursday, June 24, 2010

This Is Not NYC

We long ago watched the vanishing of the wonderful Gordon Novelty shop. Opened in 1934 and closed for years, its building was purchased by Thor and put on the market, its classic facade stripped of all its details.

It was soon covered by a tarp showing faux boutiques and offered for lease--"Lease me now, love me forever..." It got no takers. In April, In & Out Burger hoaxers pretended to be moving in.

Now a Massey Knakal FOR SALE sign has been bolted on top of Thor's faux-tique tarp, as well as another, curious banner. It says Volume Black, with the words, inspired by Magritte's famous line about a pipe, "This is not NYC."

Designed by artist Seth Mathurin, the banner advertises the presence in the old novelty shop of the gallery Volume Black.

Michel Foucault wrote a whole book about Magritte's pipe, but for this banner we only have a press release, which calls it "a surrealist tribute to New York City" that pays homage "to the motif of artist Rene Magritte while celebrating the brave heroes of NYC."

Amid the 9/11 imagery, there are women with amputated limbs. One has her leg stumps spread around a wine goblet.

First we had the real New York in the facade of the novelty shop. Then a faux New York, the real-estate developer's dream on a vinyl tarp. For a brief moment, in this location, there was a hoax New York. And now, layered on top of those layers, some sort of surreal New York.

So if this is not New York, but a visual representation of New York, then what is New York in this moment of time--real, faux, hoax, surreal?


evan barbour said...

i'm going to reference cultural geographer M. Crang here and say that the city is a palimpsest; it's made up of layers of hoax over faux over surreal over real, and the proportions of each change with the cultural, economic and political currents of any given age. I don't think the realities of New York could exist without the surrealities (isn't "reality" a subjective, created thing anyway?)

JakeGould said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JakeGould said...

Here are some shots I took of M. Gordon and another local novelty shop back in the day.

r said...

Im gonna go with lame.

C.L. Rogers said...

I was always confused about this place. I moved to NYC in 1990 and I went in once and they had a velvet rope. The guy sitting on the stool in front of the rope wouldn't let me past it saying something about they only sold costumes.