Paris social whirl

The last couple of days have approximated a social whirl. Three sets of friends in Paris, all working folk, and most travelling somewhere else on Monday, so visiting was naturally scheduled through the weekend. It is a great treat to see the inside people’s homes in other countries, in this case a couple of Paris apartments and a house about 25 minutes north of the city in a small village. Their housing culture is quite different from ours. Just one example: one friend who recently rented an apartment tells us that kitchens usually come stripped to the walls. No cupboards. No appliances. Just wiring and a gas outlet. It is normal to outfit a kitchen completely when a new tenant moves in, and thus for the departing tenant to take everything when they move! Obviously this creates a strong incentive to stay in a rental accommodation, rather than having to rebuild your kitchen with every move. French friends confirm that this is normal for Paris. For a North American it is hard to imagine that level of investment in a rental place, or for that matter for a new purchase. The transaction costs and moving expenses alone are usually pretty daunting on their own.

Saturday dawned cold but clear, proving that the French forecasters are no better than Canadian, or so we hoped. After a quick stop at a wonderful coffee shop called Fragments, we were off to see more art at the Musée d’Art Moderne, which is always worth some time. A pleasant surprise was getting in relatively easily, with little need to line up, except for the much more stringent security checks that are in evidence everywhere, as you might expect. On show was (another) Andy Warhol retrospective, an “immersive experience” called CO-WORKERS: network as artist, and an excellent photo display that was part of the Prix Pictet, entitled disorder. A very mixed bag.

The Warhol show included quite a bit of video, many of the normal works for such a show, and an unexpected piece called “Shadows” that occupied a gigantic room, as you can see at the link above. There were 102 of the 108 original components, and it makes a strong impression. Although I think I’ve almost seen enough Warhol for a while, this show was amusing because of the slightly caustic curatorial text accompanying the various sections, which often cast an interesting light on the work. It also struck me that most of the people in the gallery were likely seeing the show very differently than were Helen and I. For us, the show was essentially revisiting a portion of our lives, because we were around to experience the work’s disruption and shock value as it happened. Much of the rest of the viewers were likely in their 20s and 30s, so for them this would have been looking at some sort of historical retrospective, similar I suspect to my going to a Picasso or Matisse show; looking at art that had been produced somewhat before I was born, with a few pieces that might have been done before I was aware of art at all. I really wondered what their reactions were when confronted by grainy 16 mm film, or the silkscreens. Looking now for reviews by newcomers.

The CO-WORKERS show struck me as quite strange. It appears that much of the newest artworks, benefiting from and invoking the power of the Internet ends up looking like an amateur newscast on television. Talking heads against a bland background. Some others included more visual elements. Colourful backgrounds and people wearing disguises or with painted faces, and sometimes talking more animatedly. But talking heads on television would cover off much of the show. Which I don’t find great use of time in a gallery, where the beginning or end of the “program” is unknown, and frankly, one misses having somewhere comfortable to sit. Assuming the content is interesting enough to hold one’s attention. I’d have thought perhaps I could link to some of the works here as examples, but of course there is no on-line catalogue for this “network as artist” show. Nope. But you could buy a printed one, but of course that wouldn’t help my desire to share the network as artist show on the network, would it? I obviously need to spend a bit of time figuring this out.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be good, so I am hoping we can go for a walk down the Canal St. Martin. Oh yeah. Did I mentioned it’s been raining?

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P.S. I did figure out how to post a video of the Christmas lights on Le Drugstore. See bottom of preceeding post.

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