vendredi 10 avril 2009

Paris, unassumingly

I'm sitting in my little room, half-listening to an old man talk about philosophy on the France culture radio station: ..."qui se définit par la défaite des cultures hérétiques en Occident"... A little dense for the morning, but the voice in itself is a form of music, or at least - human presence. I quite like it when I can have the radio on and zone in and out of it.

I went to a very interesting photo exhibit with Nathalie yesterday at the Fondation Cartier (extremely cool building by the way, conceived by the architect Jean Nouvel, same one who made the Musée du Quai Branly). William Eggleston is a (famous, apparently) american photographer who casts a modern and unassuming eye on Paris. That's what makes his photos so refreshing. No unecessary prettiness, but glances of what makes Paris alive with a pretty incredible use of colour.

In his own words : "I approached it (Paris) and am still approaching it as if it is just anywhere". What a great idea! Everyone should do that, instead of refer to Paris with that sickly reverence usually reserved for the dead or the almost dying.

His technique is basically "point and shoot", and he only takes one shot of each subject. So, if he missed the moment, then it's gone. You can feel that energy in his photos, especially when people are within the shot. A working black man repairing the pavement, and looking straight at the camera with a shovel in his hand, and right behind him, his colleague, also looking straight out and pointing. This very narrow perspective is created and forces us to see these people. Quite provocative, in fact. Too bad there weren't more people shots. Many still lives, some very smart and cleverly composed, tending towards abstraction. Others, glimpses of beauty in unexpected places, like the one with the green light reflected on the wet pavement.

I should probalbly also mention his paintings, or graphic work exhibited which would also be commonly referred to as "doodles" if anyone else were making them. At first, I honestly was shocked that they would exhibit doodles from anyone in a museum. But then, when looking at the frames that combined the doodles with a photograph, I changed my mind. Both mediums completed each other, since they were reactions to reality, each in their own way. The photo: an immediate reaction, point and shoot, and the doodle (I really should call it a drawing): a delayed reaction based on the photograph. Kind of cool.

I'm happy I went to see this exhibit (pure luck, it was Nat's idea), because it also tells me that people - artists - want to picture Paris in other ways than the everlasting cliché served to us all the time. They want to desacralise it, make into a stranger that can be discovered all over again.

I'm still trying to figure out where I stand about this city. I still can't figure out if I like it or if I don't. It might sound silly, but this is my home town we're talking about, which also happens to be one of the most popular places on earth. So, the question is, can I not like Paris? Very conflicting relationship.

Somewhere in a notebook, I wrote this, which still applies: "When I came back to Censier, I decided to get some bread, and as I was waiting to cross the road, I looked up at one of the buildings in front of me and there came a feeling of peace, in the sense that at that precise moment, I wasn't fighting with Paris. It was my city, and I liked it."

PS: informative review of the exhibit in the Guardian -

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