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I'm an Irish guy living in France. I like music, books, creative writing, art, history, vegetarianism, people, and chocolate.

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Sunday 4 January 2009

Duct Tape Christ

Yesterday we went to Paris to meet up with friends we hadn't seen for a while, and we decided to go to the National Museum of Modern Art in the Centre Georges Pompidou. I didn't really know what to expect because I know very little about 20th century art. I was afraid of it being very arrogant, filled with paintings that any three-year old could make and which are only considered art because their creators are famous. There was some of that, but not too much, and I actually really enjoyed our visit.

There was an exhibition of works by Jacques Villeglé, a French artist I'd never heard of, who has been making pictures out of lacerated and ripped posters he found on walls in French cities since the 1950s : political posters, adverstisement posters and band posters. To quote the museum's website, "Villeglé's work is a tremendous seismograph of our "collective realities" such as they are distilled by urban space and whose stories are recreated for us via the unusual reality of its walls. It reveals to what extent what we see is conditioned by this everyday visual environment and reactivates our memory in a critical, but also enjoyable, way."
Villeglé is also famous for his "alphabet socio-politique" in which he uses political and religious symbols. The exhibition was fascinating, and would definitely be very interesting for semioticians.

There was also an exhibition about futurism. I didn't know much about the movement, but one of our friends has studied it during the year so she was able to explain quite a bit. The futurists focussed on machines, speed and the industrial world, and believed that technology would change the world for good. Unsuprisingly, a lot of them were fascists. I didn't really like the paintings, but they revealed the way in which the futurists perceived the world at that time, which was very interesting. With today's environmental crisis it's hard to understand how naïve they could be about technology.

Finally we visited the main gallery. Some of the more contemporary works were very pretentious (a white canvas with a line or two brushed across : it might have been original 30 years ago but it's a bit cliché now. Time to move on?). But they were some really thought-provoking works. One was a video : an artist went to Yemen to film kids carrying placards he had made and on which were written in arabic the names of famous Western "heroes" (Minnie Mouse, Picasso, Zorro, Santa Claus, James Bond...) to show how capitalism finds a way into poor societies and undermines centuries of local tradition and culture.

Another interesting work was a red and white duct-taped crucifix. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the artist, but she or he was South African, and wanted to represent the way religion is used to justify the most terrible things. I think it's a very powerful work, and it could be applied to the situation in Northern Ireland or the way God was used to justify the war in Iraq.

I'll finish by posting a picture of the Parisian skyline. The view at the top of the Pompidou centre is breath-taking. When you see Paris from the top, you understand why so many people think it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

1 comment:

Jonny said...

Nice photo! I always saw pictures of the Pompidou centre in french textbooks and wondered what it was like inside!

Haven't got into Belle and Sebastien - heard some Camera Obscura though and they weren't bad. Fey is the word!!

Emerald Champagne

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