Fabiola: 1, Francis Alÿs: 0

Like Oldenburg's facetious collection of toy rayguns as 'art' in the 70s.Hurry! Only two more days to take in the exhibit of “artist” Francis Alÿs’s “collection” of “art” depicting “Saint” Fabiola at… well, who cares where it’s at. It’s conceptual. No need to bother with actuality.

All you need to know is, Mr. Alÿs thinks it’s wildly funny that Fabiola, a 4th century Christian saint and patroness of victims of abuse and adultery has been venerated by thousands of those victims who have expressed their devotion by producing countless examples of the icons pictured above. So over the years, whenever “artist” Alÿs has come across yet another amusing amateur picture of Fabiola he has added it to his collection — and now he has appealed to the highly developed sense of irony of the curators of LACMA to present the vast hoard in an actual gallery (right there in the early European art section of the museum) as a sort of pretend, ironic, “meta,” above-it-all, “distinction blurring,” art exhibit. Oh, excuse me. I forgot the quotation marks: “Art” exhibit. Or is it art “exhibit?”

Either way, I guess. No doubt Mr. Alÿs’s irony is so cultivated queer quotes are superfluous. You may take them for granted in any and all places. Ironically, however, the irony that is meant to encompass Fabiola is instead encompassed by Fabiola: she’s above irony. To view this “institutional critique” is not to be impressed with the preciousness of Alÿs’s refined sensibilities or the curators’ twee self-awareness, but rather with the human suffering of the supplicants who, decade after decade, offered their innocent, awkward tributes. Fabiola wins.


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