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?