Sorry things have been quiet around here for a bit, but I’ve been busy sharing content with Trippert. It’s a fun site to browse around, if you’re interested in travel writing and pics.
If you enjoy 20th century art, allow me to recommend a terrific exhibit at the Grand Palais right now.
It’s called Nouveau Réalisme, but don’t let the title throw you off: there’s nothing conventionally “realistic” about this art. The term was coined mid-century as a reaction to the self-seriousness of abstract expressionism. The idea was to bring figures and objects — real things — back into art, but in an unexpected new way… in other words, no stodgy old paintings of flowers and fruit.
The result is a playful, ironic approach to art that mirrors the pop-art experiments of Americans like Warhol and Lichtenstein. Highlights include the torn posters of Villeglé, the whimsical machine art of Tinguely, Niki de Saint Phalle‘s shooting paintings, and of course — my own favorite — Yves Klein, who insisted that his blue monochromes were simply paintings of the sky.
If you didn’t make it to the Klein and Rauschenberg retrospectives at Pompidou this winter, this exhibit is a great place to catch a glimpse of what you missed.
28 March – 2 July 2007
Galeries nationales du Grand Palais
square Jean Perrin entrance
Tao Lin‘s Eeeee-Eee-Eeee may be considered a 21st century follow-up to Albert Camus’s L’Étranger — only instead of an Arab being shot to death by a confused and amoral colonialist, Elijah Wood is clubbed to death by a dolphin.
If you’re the kind of person who read that last sentence and immediately wondered how an aquatic mammal with flippers could club a human to death, then this is probably not the book for you. Eeeee-Eee-Eeee is Tao Lin’s world, and you’re going to have to learn to go with the flow — talking dolphins, teleporting bears, nervous hamsters and all.
Of course, there are human beings in Lin’s world, and not just celebrities. Unlike the animals, however, the human characters find themselves incapable of acting, despite a universal longing to engage with the world around them. Andrew, a morose and underachieving pizza-delivery boy/writer, fantasizes constantly about going on killing rampages but finds he lacks the energy and stamina for murder. Mark hopes to find authentic experience in pop culture, but is regularly frustrated by Andrew’s sarcastic jibes. Ellie seeks purpose in political activism, but is stymied by philosophical contradictions. Ultimately, all the characters are so overtaken by anomie and ennui that they can’t even conjure up more than the mildest bemusement at the talking menagerie around them.
Which brings us back to those dolphins. It’s not clear to me whether Lin is portraying an alternate reality in which hyper-intelligent animals have always coexisted with humanity, but I prefer to think that the animals are a new feature, and are acting as harbingers of some great societal cataclysm. The biggest hint of this is a conversation between Andrew and a hamster, during which the hamster seems to be trying to convey a warning of some sort. Unfortunately, the hamster isn’t very bright, and keeps forgetting what he wants to say. Eventually, he’s attacked by an owl, and Andrew is left as befuddled — and unconcerned — as ever.
And so it goes in Tao Lin’s world — everyone is so deadened by the banality of existence that even the truly absurd fails to make an impression. Even more tellingly, the bears and dolphins are almost as depressed and disillusioned as the humans. In fact, the only characters who seem to have found any pleasure or meaning from their existence are the celebrities — Jhumpa Lahiri on her diamond yacht, Salman Rushdie feeling proud and famous, Elijah Wood and his (apparently unreturned) respect for dolphins.
Maybe Lin’s point is that pop celebrity is the only truly authentic experience available to us in a postmodern world. In which case, I hope Elijah Wood hears about this book, and how in it he was murdered by a dolphin, and I hope it makes him so mad that he sues Tao Lin. And I hope Tao Lin manages to milk the controversy for all it’s worth, until he attains the kind of celebrity status that may one day redeem us all.
I think you have a picture of hot pastrami somewhere in your many websites. Where can I get it in Paris? I’m hungry.Thanks for the tip,
I got this brief comment on my About page this morning, and it occurred to me that the answer really deserved its own post.
This is the hot pastrami in question. I am sad to report, however, that the only place in Paris to get this particular hot pastrami sandwich is in my apartment. Because I made it. And I don’t know of any restaurant or deli in these parts that serves it.
I can tell you where I got my pastrami, though.
It came from the Marais, from a deli known, appropriately, as The King of Pastrami. It’s located at number 26, Rue des Rosiers, and the phone number is visible in the photo I linked. The owner is the world’s biggest mensch (seriously, ask me about it sometime), and the pastrami is excellent.
Of course, that only gets you half of the way to your hot pastrami sandwich. For the rest, I recommend hitting the bakery across the street for a pretty decent rye bread and then, when you get home, use this technique to get the pastrami hot, juicy, and perfectly pliable.
Spread on some mustard (Moutarde a l’Ancienne suits me fine), and you’re good to go. But hey, if any of my readers know a place that will do all the work for you, please let us know in the comments!
Wednesday evening, while everyone else in this country watched the presidential debates, I attended the opening of Kasia Ozga‘s exhibit at the Fondation des Etats-Unis. The major motifs of the exhibit, as you can see below, were rope and body parts — mostly hands, feet, and fingers.
I highly recommend reading Ozga’s own artist’s statement about her works, because she has a lot of interesting things to say about fractured identities and anti-commodification. But for me, the pieces had an almost fetishistic, horror-movie aesthetic to them that I found pretty compelling.
Rope, for example — of course it can be just an ordinary tool, but in the context of the human body, it’s hard not to think of it as a vehicle for torture, murder, or suicide.
The repeated images of ropes joined to dismembered extremities brought to mind the creepy experiments/fantasies of a serial killer — something like the skin and bone art featured in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This one only broke because someone knocked it over. Still, I felt the damaged piece played nicely into my imagined theme — another echo of the torture motif.
Exhibit open until May 10th
Fondation des Etas-Unis