With Offbeat Artists’ Enclaves, Who Needs Resorts?

(stefan ruiz).jpg

No, that’s not an exterior shot of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse above, it’s the House of Artists at the Art/Brut Center Gugging just north of Vienna. The center houses a museum/exhibition space where visitors can purchase works by the artists in residence, all of whom happen to be mental patients, which seems appropriate, as the center was once a sprawling psychiatric hospital. Daphne Merkin explains further in her recent piece on Gugging and its unique twist on Outsider Art in Culture+Travel. Meanwhile, in the latest travel-themed issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, columnist Stephen Metcalf journeys to the Territory, a renegade art collective in Paris of which his first impressions are of “a firetrap, a serial-killer lair, and Willy Wonka‘s chocolate factory.” He later describes the place as “a semi-commune dedicated to artsy poverty in an era that has not been kind to artsy poverty.” Sound like your cup of tea? Before you apply to be a resident/member, consider this:

To live in the Territory, one must follow 135 rules, which include elaborate habits of communication (via walkie-talkie) and egress (everyone must master exiting in one minute, with passport, laptop, and pants), so that no one will ever be harmed in a fire. Other rules encompass kitchen etiquette, the management of the “strategic reserve” of 300 frozen salmon and the necessity of obeying the Art Class Alarm, which draws together the Territory at any hour, night or day, for an art project.

Sounds just like just another day at UnBeige headquarters, although Steve has been known to dip into the strategic reserve in the wee hours. Apparently, there’s nothing like salmon to fuel those 5 a.m. posts. Must be the omega-3s.