Inviting the world’s top street art talent to create one-time works and installations that will never be on public display, and are soon to be lost forever, may sound a little extravagant; but when you’re the decaying shell of a nightclub that once hosted the likes of Keith Haring, Kate Moss, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger and Prince, it’s a little easier to understand said extravagance. Space Invader, Futura, STEN LEX, Mr Brainwash… the roll call of art talent is fittingly grand for the benchmark set by the Parisian club’s former clientele; each recently the subject of a daily profile on Les Bains‘ website.
The ephemeral virtual exhibition now a thing of the past, it’s the fleeting works’ future fate that most intrigues – closed in 2010 due to structural complications, Les Bains will now begin its transformation into a swanky hotel. And what of the artworks? Gone, forever. Probably. And in that lies this project’s beauty, for street art — at its very core — is just that; fleeting, transient, unpredictable. In an age where the world’s galleries are brimming with millionaire ‘street artists’, Les Bains’ artist residencies have provided a welcome reminder of the scene’s primal essence. Bravo, encore. Or not.