Charleston EATER, January 2015
The longtime employees are actually the present owners of Gaulart & Maliclet French Cafe!
And watch Interview with TODD LESTER
Todd Lester in discussion with French duo, Gwylene Gallimard & Jean-Marie Mauclet (a.k.a. JEMAGWGA) who made the Fast & French project 30 years ago in Charleston, South Carolina.
, "... After the Wednesday or Friday shows, a dinner at Gaulart & Mauclet, more popularly known as Fast and French, is in order. Designed by two artists as an experiment where diners are seated together at a curving, communal counter, Fast & French is all about the vibe and the camaraderie. It poses an avant garde challenge, to: what happens when you have to sit next to strangers for dinner?"
G&M/Fast and French
Article in City Paper
View local articles on G&M/Fast and French
... And then Fast & French turned 25!
Thank you so much!
May 3rd 2009 WAS YOUR DAY. Nothing would have been accomplished or would have had much meaning without your active participation, or your presence, or your extended support.
We sent Joe Riley, the Mayor of Charleston, a formal letter of thanks for his "Proclamation". In it we stressed that " ... twenty five years for a very small business like Fast & French represent, not only a lot of hard work from many generations of workers but also the important support of a very faithful local clientele. Said support was illustrated by the number of participants ... They all wanted to testify to the necessity of dedicated, diverse, open-minded corner stores, to anchor a community and consolidate the spirit of neighborhood". We only hope that the mayor reads our letter and opens his mind to our plea for Charleston to save itself from total gentrification.
We have a strong sense of what Fast & French brings to the city and of the role the arts play in this. " Where there is art, there is community - Where there is community there is art". That was included in the Proclamation - under our dictation, of course. What we really want is for this very spirit to outlast us. Moreover since, once again, you made it all possible, can we count on you to help us brainstorm about the future of Fast & French? Can we formalize a process by which such brainstorming would be active, creative and constant?
Now the time has come to make our history, to cook up the metaphysical soup - or is it the existential brew of our eternity!
For those who could not make it to the City Gallery at Waterfront Park on May 3rd 2009, here is a quick synopsis of what took place that day:
- A 100' long three-dimensional timeline with memorabilia, pictures and artifacts: 1983-2009
- A large pig and chicken set for pictures. You could ride them
- Music by the Hungry Monks, Gary Erwin & friends, The New Music Collective and others
- Stories by customers, staff and friends
- A pig and Chicken contest: "Captions for the Future"
- A proclamation from the Mayor of Charleston
- A speech by Jean-Marie Mauclet
- 400 books given away, donated by Darryl Wellington
- Food, prepared and cooked by a multi-generational team of cafe staff and wine served by Palmetto Distributors
- And a suggestion box for the future
Thank you again. Help us keep the vision.
SEE PICTURES by Laura MOSES
By Jason BREMER
By Jennifer MILLER
Reviews on our 25th anniversary include the following ones:
Post and Courier:"Fast and French honors 25 years with impomptu celebration"
Charleston Citypaper: "G&M;s 25th anniversary is an opportunity to ask big questions"
Charleston Citypaper: "Celebrating a quarter century of French cuisine"
To PROXIMITY MAGAZINE
It is a great pleasure to see your work and receive your magazine. We feel at home. The ART & FOOD ISSUE
, and its TIMELINE/DIRECTORY had special resonance with us.
We are an art collective, which has been working for 30 years out of Charleston, SC. One of our first endeavors germinated from the conceptual arts of the 70's that pushed artists to do research and expose it as artwork. Our food and restaurant subject came from the following impulses:
- the vision of a place, long and narrow, with an entrance at each end: One for customers who could pay, the other for customers who could not pay. Here, the conceptual space in which we could imagine a café-as-an-art-piece, was a space we had pried open with our subversion of the dominant economic model. The syphoning effect of the bipolarity <pay/don't pay> was opening a whirlpool for creative thoughts. Not getting us stuck right or left, in the wings.
- We also saw the "Fast & French"
name we adopted for the experiment as clearly exploring the differences between the culture of French food and the procedures of American fast food.
- An other choice we made: the community bars. Being high, they challenge the usual relationship client/server. Being communal, they force socialization, in 1993.
- As for creating dishes? Mostly no pots or pans! It was a pure process of dreaming and salivating for us who had no particular culinary experience. If we did not salivate, it was not right. This is an artistic, conceptualist way to subvert any recipe for success.
- We did try everything for a logo, until the day we combined a wild pig and a domestic chicken. Something clicked. We did not understand why, then. But later on, it came to us that we had lifted a corner of our French collective unconscious. At the time France was still Gaul country, at the end of the Roman empire, the place was full of wild boars and the rallying emblem was a chicken, benevolent though a bit silly, but layer of eggs - not the mighty, macho rooster of modern France. We had allowed, in our quest, the subconscious to perk up.
At the end we painted ourselves in a corner with our search and had to manage the end of the process and the money. It was May 1984 and we opened a real cafe, reviewed early on by the Travel sections of New York Times and other publications as a place with "handsome high-tech bars that run the length of the narrow storefront"
of a historical house, where "good French food doesn't have to be expensive."
Charleston, the South, had a harder time to understand that. It took a few years.
Now, to put money at the end of the chain is not to be motivated by money. We ultimately survived without abandoning our principles. Our creativity, aspirations, dreams to see Art be part of the larger Culture, were not going to be second to the mighty dollar. Fast & French, Gaulart & Maliclet French Cafe will be 30 year old in 2014, and is now owned by three of its former employees; an inter-racial team in the heart of downtown Charleston, where segregation is still present. Art can do that too.
We also created a seminal show: "Fast-Food-Chain-Feeding"
, presented at the Halsey Gallery of the College of Charleston (1994) and Walker's Point Center for the Arts in Milwaukee, MI (1995), previewed as part of a series in Public Art Magazine by Rene-Paul Barilleaux in 1993, stating: "Their approach to the restaurant business reflects their interest in complex social interaction and provide a means by which the artists relate to other people as well as one in which patrons can relate to one another."
"Fast-Food-Chain-Feeding" was part of a trilogy: "Portraits of America", with "Holy City" (presented in "Places with the Past: Site-specific Art in Charleston" curated by Mary-Jane Jacob in 1991) and "Insurance: Compassion for Sale" (premiered at Tula Foundation in Altanta, 1993). The "Fast-Food-Chain-Feeding" installation included a video (an African American man reading to White children a food and anthropology writing by Margaret Mead, drawings about the technology of fast-food (chemistry, finance, sanitation), decorative pediments and circulation patterns, a mountain of plastic bananas and to-go foam containers to be taken home, with a writing on Transubstantiation, as in transforming food into gold through chemistry. Art can do that too.
Finally, below is a the copy of a Proclamation by the Mayor of Charleston, dedicating the 25th anniversary of Fast & French in 2009:
Whereas, Gaulart & Maliclet, aka Fast & French was developed as an experimental small business in Charleston in 1984;
Whereas Gaulart & Maliclet, aka Fast & French is one rare very small business which survived the turmoil of the Broad St block between King St and Meeting St after Hurricane Hugo;
Whereas Gaulart & Maliclet, aka Fast & French was an art experiment exploring the cultural differences between American Fast Food and French culinary taste;
Whereas Gaulart & Maliclet’s aka Fast & French two major owners, Gwylene Gallimard and Jean-Marie Mauclet, are working artists and their design was then imitated by many other places;
Whereas Gwylene Gallimard and Jean-Marie Mauclet have represented the local artists in the seminal Spoleto show “Places with a Past: Site-Specific Art in Charleston” in 1991;
Whereas Gwylene Gallimard and Jean-Marie Mauclet have developed and propagated the Arts in Community spirit of the new Millenium with “The Future is on the Table” international project in Charleston;
Whereas Gwylene Gallimard and Jean-Marie Mauclet have developed various collaborative art exhibitions around issues of the day;
Whereas it is recognized that where there is art there is community;
Whereas it is recognized that where there is community there is art;
Whereas the people of planet Fast & French, aka Gaulart & Maliclet, are global in their visions and local in their actions, are celebrating their 25th anniversary on May the third of two thousand and nine for an even more enriching future in Charleston;
Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Mayor of Charleston, SC
The South is alive. Please consider it and visit it. And consider adding the information contained in this letter on your TIMELINE/DIRECTORY. Thank you so much. Thank you for the opportunity of this conversation. JEMAGWGA