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Monsalvat at Bureau

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While David Zwirner's empire grows exponentially, swallowing up big chunks of prime real estate in a post-Sandy Chelsea, one tiny gallery space on the Lower East Side, Bureau, just metamorphosed into a mammoth empire with an exhibition titled Monsalvat, a 200-square-feet goldmine of sheer aesthetic mischief.

Conceived by Andrea Merkx and Nathan Gwynne, the two heads of a double-headed eagle known as the Merkx & Gwynne project, Monsalvat includes the work of over fifty contributors, transforming the gallery into a head-spinning and hilarious Wunderkammer.

The exhibition's title is taken from Munsalvaesche, the Fisher King castle in Wolfram von Eschenbach's 13th century tale. The exhibition will also be used as a stage set for the filming of a revival of a '70s rock opera about the King Arthur legend. It brings to mind the famous Décors of Marcel Broodthaers, who frequently revisited fables to re-invent them as installations and film sets that exist somewhere between ancient text and contemporary vortex.

Employing a raked, multi-colored, checkered stage floor built to mimic a medieval forced perspective, the show re-imagines the Fisher King's hall where Perceval encounters a procession of objects, including candelabras, carved knives, tapestries, paintings, a bleeding lance, and the Holy Grail. The many signs and symbols refracted through the eclectic mix of "sacred artifacts" create a phantasmagorical viewing experience.

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Merkx & Gwynne project's installation is a tightrope act, carefully proceeding from one fabulous, rock-infused castle of their imagination to another. In a way, their adventure replicates the delirious, chivalrous quest of Perceval -a wise fool if there ever was one- and his knights, replacing them with artists who, traveling inside the magic land of the art world, search for the impossible.

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As Andrea Merkx explains, "We are using the art world as a film set and bending it to our own will." Like Perceval before them, the Merkx & Gwynne project boldly takes the empty seat at King Arthur's/David Zwirner's Round Table and initiates a quest that may never end, yet gives hope that art can and must be saved from cultural hegemony.

M O N S A L V A T
a Merkx & Gwynne project
organized with Maliea Croy and Allison Branham
BUREAU
127 Henry Street, New York, N.Y. 10002
Gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday 11:00 - 6:00
January 18 - February 17 2013

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