It all starts in a deserted Paris in August. William, a photographer, approaches the narrator at a terrace: “Anna?”. The narrator is not Anna but decides to go along with it, to become Anna.
“Ce n’est pas de moi dont William tombera amoureux, c’est du portrait que je ferai d’Anna.” (William will not fall in love with me but with the portrait I will make of Anna).
She will embody her and become the one William would want to be with. She uses her new identity at a contemporary art gallery opening, makes sure to be ultra feminine for each one of their encounters, to be understanding when he talks about his art. Who is the narrator? She is this self-described transparent woman who will become somebody thanks to Anna. And there we are, forgetting her and discovering Anna as she is created, stroke by stroke. Like William we are hypnotised by Anna and cannot get enough of her.
Isn’t she incredible? She even creates a performance artist, Alice Kahn, whose conceptual work she explains. Alice Kahn’s artworks consist in interventions that are so subtle that one may not even realize they occured. She played golf with an ice cube until it melted. She introduced one of her artworks in the Louvre without anyone noticing.
Hypnotised, fascinated, you read and you close the book. And there you are wondering. Who is the narrator? Is she the ‘real’ Anna who decided to present to the world a representation of herself? That would explain the use of a palindrome name wouldn’t it? Or is she Alice Kahn? Have we just been lured into one of her performances without realizing it? Did she just fill the little holes left by Anna to paint her for us as we wanted to see her?
Pauline Klein wrote Alice Kahn, her first novel, in 2010 where she blurs with verve the lines between reality and representation. It come with no surprise that this work has been noticed by major French media such as Le Monde, Le Nouvel Obs or les Inrockuptibles to cite but a few.
I was introduced to her work by Rachel Rom who herself questions the reality of the photographic representation. This coming June we will open at Galerie E.G.P in Paris an exhibition entitled Be My Guest. Artists we represent have been asked to curate the show by invitting an artist of their choice. Rachel Rom chose Pauline Klein. They have decided to present a collaborative work and I am looking forward to it. The opening will be on June 12th, 2014 and before having the chance to meet Pauline Klein in person there, you can listen to her talking about Alice Khan for Mediapart.
Alice Kahn by Pauline Klein edited by Alla is available in French.