With the recent removal of Paul Mccarthy’s ‘Tree’ sculpture from Place Vendome, in Paris after the Parisian meltdown that took place over the work as it resembled a particular type of sex toy; even causing an unknown assailant to slap McCarthy in the face – three times, and the sculpture to be vandalised and subsequently removed after the work dominated the Vendome for less than 48 hours its removal – now the infamous artist has offered up a literal taste of what he has cooked up for the newly reopened Monnaie de Paris.
McCarthy’s ‘Chocolate Factory’ will inaugurate the official reopening of the Paris Mint, one of France’s oldest institutions. Coins and medals continue to be issued from within the 18th century building, which is located along the left bank of the Seine – but now with the addition of the artist’s new installation, at once art and also fully operational chocolate factory means that edible, suggestive Santas and ‘sex toy’ trees will be issued alongside the coins and medals for Paris’ delectation.
Visitors can ascend the grand staircase and view a new collection of inflatable trees that stand sentinel, proof of McCarthy’s resolve, an “aggressive” response to the vandalism and fervour that took place in Paris. The viewer enters into the octagonal gilded reception hall completed by Jacques-Denis Antoine in 1775. Where the assembly line has been built as a windowed installation, allowing visitors to observe platinum-wigged worker/performers in action.
Simultaneously an art installation and real chocolate factory – as of last night, upwards of 4,500 figures had been created for the city visitors can purchase the 300g figures for £39 each. But at that price they may not want to eat them; and the comforting chocolate smells are juxtaposed with projections of McCarthy scribbling furiously in an oversized sketchbook; as the artist re-enacts the abuse he suffered at Parisian hands while in Place Vendome.
But Chiara Parisi, the Monnaie’s director of cultural programmes, stated how the institution will benefit from four contemporary art exhibitions per year. ‘It’s important to be participating in the cultural life of the city,’ she said, between welcoming Christian Lacroix, Azzedine Alaïa, French minister for culture Fleur Pellerin and countless collectors in town for FIAC. ‘It’s such a special location and we want to improve people’s awareness of the Monnaie and their experience here.’
As a souvenir of that experience, visitors can purchase the 300g figures for €50 each. Parisi encourages people to eat the chocolate rather than preserve it as an objet d’art. Anyway, the Mint has issued special commemorative coins, ensuring the exhibit’s legacy long after McCarthy’s work has been deflated and consumed.