We're in Paris – let's lick shop windows!

The winner of the visarte Ostschweiz’s studio tender, Martina Morger, spent March to June 2020 in Paris at the Atelier Cité Internationale des Arts. Now she is back – disinfected from the inside and with one or the other experience more in her luggage.

Martina Morger licks a shop window in Paris.
Martina Morger licks a shop window in Paris.

There are several studios in the building complex on Rue de L’hotel de ville. Artists of different nationalities come together in the nested concrete block. Two weeks after Martina’s arrival came the lockdown. For the artists in the studios a change, because the capital of France is so lively and it now resembled one of these ghost towns. 

“Some of us had more time and capacity to exchange than we would have had in a normal state,” says Martina.

Their luck was that the complex had a courtyard. It was a grey area, she says. Because it’s outside, but somehow inside. The inhabitants of the settlement would never have met so often in the courtyard and talked about art, the world and everything else. The initial restriction in France was strict. The population was only allowed to leave the house for one hour a day, and only within a five hundred metres. A form also had to be filled in for each output. Nevertheless, Martina Morger did not want to cancel her stay in Paris. Such a one-off event would not happen again. 

The desire for consumption

Martina Morger in artistic engagement with the desire for consumption.
Martina Morger in an artistic-performative examination of the desire for consumption.

For the stay Martina planned some projects, which could not take place under the new circumstances. So she went back to work and after a month she also performed the second public performance: “L’che-Vitrines”, which translates directly to lick shop windows and colloquially means shop window shopping. In it, Martina criticizes the desire for consumer goods from food, perfume to holiday bookings at the travel agency. Especially during the temporary closure of the shops, this greed could accumulate. The outburst of the lechzen was reflected in the long queues in front of the shops after the reopening, despite the possibility of shopping online, the walk into a shop seems to be more exciting.

Objects of Desire

Martina Morger performs this circumstance in the empty streets of Paris during the lockdown. In doing so, she searches for her way intuitively, but directly. As soon as she has chosen an object of desire in a shop window, she begins to follow the outlines of her object with her tongue, as if she wants to devour it. And how did the shop windows taste?

“Sweet. It’s probably a mixture of exhaust gases and window cleaning agents,” says Martina.

For this, she symbolically took a high-percentage liquor every morning for two weeks, in order to clean herself from the inside. In times of a global pandemic, this act also played an increasingly disinfecting role. The practically empty capital of France, otherwise so lively, seemed to give the performance a special character.

“The few passers-by on the street looked, but interactions didn’t happen any more,” says Martina. It was a special circumstance that is unlikely to occur in this form.

Martina Morger in Paris.