Hommage à Philippe Thomas et autres œuvres, augmenté de L’Ombre du jaseur (d’après Feux pâles)
All of Philippe Thomas’ (1951–1995) work rests on a simple principle, established in the early 1980s: the person buying his works becomes their signatory. In fact, there are no works directly associated with his name. In this way, he carried into the field of art Pessoa’s concept of heteronyms, or alternative personas. Acknowledging the death of the author by symbolically making him disappear, his work turns the art world into a vast fiction. With his finger on the spirit of the times, where business is the reference model, Thomas would introduce this “fictionalist” principle by opening an agency in New York in 1987, called readymades belong to everyone®. He served as director and invited everyone to become a part of art history via a financial transaction, i.e., by buying a unique barcode painted on canvas. Like any other agency, this one was attentive to its graphic identity and its communication. No paratextual materials (labels, reviews, advertising, etc.) were ignored. In 1990, Thomas was invited to design an exhibition for the CAPC (the Bordeaux Museum of Contemporary Art), which would become Pale Fires. This exhibition in eleven chapters used 16th-century cabinets of curiosities to offer a meditation, perverted by fiction, on the museum and its assumptions. The Shadow of the Waxwing, on the fourth floor of MAMCO, was designed as a reinterpretation of this exhibition.