At first sight, Jacques Charlier's photographs are pure documentations: they show openings and events, art fairs and galleries of the first half of the 1970s. But in this series Charlier sticks consistently to the principle of presenting not "art", but only a collection of people, a viewing and conversing public -a "get-together" of the art scene of the time. One recognizes certain persons and faces-artists like Dan Graham and Daniel Buren, critics like Catherine Millet and Benjamin Buchloh, curators, collectors, and galerists: the art business as a conglomerate of various persons, as a social event that lives from viewing and communication.

Charlier showed these photographs, which move between a society report and a sociological study, in 1975 at the opening of the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, in order to produce a last series on this occasion: the public at this opening, viewing the photographs of all the other openings. Here, at the latest, at the conclusion of the series, its inherent design technique of the self-referential loop becomes obvious as a whole: the art business as a self-contained system that feeds its own viewing back into the cycle and converts it into linkable communication. What was initially sociologically-formatted documentation is translated back in a second step and raised to the status of a work of art. And so behind Charlier's seemingly "institution-critical" approach, whose first level places social and communicative framework conditions in focus, a second level emerges that is able to take the limits of art as its theme, precisely in the context of an art fair presentation and in connection with historical distance.


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