Hi out there. I know I’ve allowed this blog to stagnate for… many moons, now. But since I left Paris (not for good! never for good!), it just didn’t feel right anymore. So I’ve moved to a new blog, documenting my life as an MFA student in northern Idaho. I hope you will join me there.
Tags: france, karaoke, lipsynching, michael jackson, music, thriller
Okay, has everyone already seen this? It’s a bunch of kids at Universite de Rouen who made a video of themselves lipsynching to Michael Jackson’s Thriller… made particularly amazing because it’s all one long take.
Although, if you ask me, there’s something else remarkable about it: I have never before seen French kids who actually knew the real lyrics to an American pop song. We need to get these kids to show up to karaoke night at some point.
Boy, it sure gets dusty around here when you ignore it for a few months! As some of you may know, I was cruelly ousted from the City of Lights last June, my return date uncertain. During that time, I decided to let this blog lie fallow for a while, and give myself some time to work on other projects. HOWEVER… no firm plans yet, but word on the street is, come November, I may have reason to parisblog once more!
In the meanwhile, here’s a list of stuff you should be doing because I wish I could:
Jacques Villegle at Pompidou
From Miro to Warhol. The Berardo collection at the Musee du Luxembourg
Christian Boltanski at the Maison Rouge – okay, this actually just closed, but how sad am I that I missed it? Please let me know if you saw it.
Picasso et les maitres at the Grand Palais
Oh, and you might also want to check out the first in Le Meg‘s vital (and timely) series on experiencing Paris on a shoestring.
Tags: burger, food, nytimes, paris
No time these days for a serious blog post, but I was wondering what the blogosphere thought about this article in the NYTimes about how hamburgers are taking over Paris. Is it true? Have you seen this trend in action? Or was this merely a slow news day?
For my part, it strikes me as slightly sad. There are so many things I love about France, and so many things I love about America, but I have generally found that we don’t do each other’s things very well. I felt a sort of pang when I read that French chefs were annoyed with French diners for refusing to eat with their hands. Eating burgers with a knife and fork typifies everything I love about the French — the staunch, Gallic self-confidence that suggests, “We will take on your culture, but we will modify it to suit our own needs and prejudices.”
I don’t know, I suppose I’m being a bit patronizing. If the French want to experiment with American food, eh bien, qu’ils mangent des burgers. Who am I to wish them back into some perceived fantasy of authentic Frenchness? Just as long as American eateries don’t develop a sudden fad for steak tartare… given our current food safety issues, that could hardly end well.
Tags: art, grand palais, monumenta, paris, promenade, richard serra, scultpture
There is a moment upon entering the recent Monumenta exhibit at the Grand Palais during which it’s hard not say, “This is it?” Standing by the front door, I heard a number of people express the sentiment, and I admit I thought it myself.
After all, this was a hugely hyped exhibit of one of the most renowned sculptors of our era — but when you walk in, all you see is five giant, apparently identical slabs of steel, lined up in a monotonous row.
Appearances, though, can be deceiving.
As an artist, Richard Serra can be strikingly austere, even by minimalist standards. But he is also frequently playful and contrary in his works (see the to-do about his 1981 piece, Tilted Arc), and so I believe this initial shock and disappointment was exactly what he intended. It is in the wake of this disappointment, however, that a true appreciation of Promenade begins to take form — because as you walk around and through the five monoliths, you’re bound to uncover the subtle beauty in the rhythm and off-kilter balance of their relationship.
I doubt my photos do any justice to the experience, but for what it’s worth, here is a taste of Promenade:
And as always, more here.
Note: this post is horribly outdated, and the exhibit itself is long since closed, but that might actually be a good thing. Based on the images originally used to promote the event, I think the curators wanted people to be surprised by the actual sculptural content when they entered the hall. I can see why they would — this piece simply wouldn’t be the same if you knew what was coming. So I was wondering for a while if it would be wrong of me to share my photos with people who might conceivably go to the exhibit, but… too late! You missed it, so enjoy.
Tags: fireworks, food, Iggy's Chowderhouse, july 4th, rhode island
I’m generally opposed to taking photos of fireworks, because no photo will ever even approach how beautiful real fireworks are — most photographic depictions wind up looking like so many celestial koosh balls. So why bother watching them through a camera instead of enjoying them first hand?
But hey, the display I was watching was really long, and I figured one hasty snap wouldn’t ruin my enjoyment all that much. Especially since, as you can tell, I didn’t even bother to hold my hand steady:
So instead of koosh balls, my fireworks look like fibre-optic cables.
I never really experienced July 4th as a kid, because I spent all my summers in Paris, celebrating le quatorze. But the holiday has grown on my in my adulthood. How can I resist any celebration that encourages mass consumption of blinky-sparkly things?
And hey, it wouldn’t be an American holiday without a little gluttony:
Fried and fried! This delicious clam belly roll was purchased right on the beach at my favorite Rhode Island clam shack:
That friendly guy is an anthropomorphized doughboy. Because faux-cannibalism makes everything taste sweeter. Happy Independence Day!
Tags: food, le pre verre, paris, pbr, restaurant
Nothing like a hot American summer — all coffee coolattas and dq blizzards — to make you yearn for the more refined palate across the ocean. Looking through my photo stream, I felt a pang of nostalgia for my last meal at Le Pre Verre. What I really love about this restaurant is the way all the flavors are a little unexpected — when you first see them on the menu, it’s hard not to wonder, “will that really be any good?” But once you taste the food, you realize that nothing here is weird for weirdness’s sake. Every dish has been carefully thought out and arranged, and instead of thinking, “how bizarre!” you wind up saying, “why didn’t I think of that?”
Shrimp scampi with an perfectly light green pea “guacamole”.
Tagine of lamb with beet relish.
Marinated strawberries with parsley ice cream, and many more, as always…
But don’t feel too bad for me, missing out on all this fine cuisine — America has its own unique culinary pleasures, and I am making happy re-acquaintance with them:
Thick steaks, buttery corn on the cob, and a PBR to wash it down… life could be worse.
Tags: art, color, light, minimalism, MoMA, New York, Olafur Eliasson
I have a huge backlog of Paris posts to type up, but this is time-sensitive (closing at the end of the month), so it’s coming first.
This weekend I schlepped all the way to New York because I just couldn’t bear to miss the Olafur Eliasson retrospective on right now at the MoMA. I like Eliasson because he’s not about art as stuff — instead of asking people to stand around and admire his beautiful objects, his art is about perception and intangible experience. There are objects, but the objects themselves aren’t the point, except in that they create an environment where strange, beautiful, unexpected experiences are possible.
This piece, for example, 360 degree room for all colors, is the one I first fell in love with when I saw it at the Tate modern back in 2004. My original description: “You enter this circular room in which glorious colored light emanates from the walls. Everything you look at is awash in the glow from the walls, but even better is if you stand right next to the wall so there’s nothing in your field of vision but pure colored light. It’s like staring right into the abyss, or confronting the face of God or something. Awesome and terrible all at once, so beautiful you feel as though you’d go mad if you don’t look away.” Obviously, the piece can’t really be conveyed by still photos on a computer screen, but if you want to get some vague idea of it, check out this slideshow.
Not everything in the show was a complete success. One of the most talked about pieces was the Reversed waterfall out at PS1 in Queens, and for all that I loved the concept, the execution failed to impress. As the title implies, “a system of pumps reverses the flow of water in this man made waterfall, sending the water streaming upward.” A wonderful, whimsical idea, but it turns out gravity is a mighty foe when it comes to rushing water — the whole piece looked like a glorified bubbler or drinking fountain, and nothing about it conveyed “waterfall” to me.
Beauty, on the other hand, (also at PS1), completely made up for it. Another totally unphotographable work, in which “a spotlight shines obliquely through a curtain of fine mist, creating an indoor rainbow.” Oh, but what a curtain!
Even though I knew it was water, there was a strange tactile, fabric-like quality to the mist — if you stood directly under it, it was like a shimmering, gossamer curtain billowing down on you, just slightly heavier than air. Definitely worth the trek out to Queens.
Okay, this post is getting on the long side, but please do check out the rest of the photos for more gorgeous experiments with light, color, and water.
at the MoMA and PS1 in New York until June 30th.
Tags: double entendre, oral, paris, teeth
Finally getting around to upload my leftover Paris photos, and I ran across this little gem.
Anybody looking for some action?
Tags: art, exhibit, paris, pompidou, traces du sacre
Looking over my reviews of the last few exhibits I’ve been to, I see a theme emerge. What I’ve really been into, recently, is art that embraces the anti-rational, the emotional, the transcendent — nothing too cerebral or easily defined. So it’s no big surprise that I fell wholly in love with Traces du Sacré, the big exhibit currently at Beaubourg.
How much did I love it? All told, I spent about seven hours there, spread out over three visits, and if I hadn’t been leaving town, I probably would have gone back again.
The purpose of Traces du Sacré is to assemble works by artists engaged in a search for something beyond mundane, material existence. Over the long history of art, artists have often been charged with representing spiritual themes; in the past, this generally meant producing overtly religious works, but in the 20th century, when organized, mainstream religion lost its sway over artists and intellectuals, people didn’t give up on the idea of the sacred entirely — they just found new ways to explore the basic human urge toward transcendence.
The exhibit is organized thematically, with a focus on the different approaches artists of various kinds took toward the problem. There’s a section on psychedelia, complete with day-glo swirlies under ultra-violet light, and a section on Freudian psychology — another non-religious way of examining the invisible landscape of the psyche. One of my favorite rooms emphasized the new occult/religious movements that grew up around the turn of the last century in an attempt to reinvent faith without the baggage of archaic religious institutions. It was surprising how many artists — Mondrian, Duchamp — dabbled in new age ideology before settling into their better known incarnations.
It’s a huge exhibit with some 350 works in various different media. Some were goofy or hadn’t aged well — Thelemites wandering around Egypt to a soundtrack by Jimmy Page, for example — but others, like Rothko, Francis Bacon, or a film clip by F.W. Murnau impressed with their ability to capture the resonance of the sublime and the supernatural within a secular framework.