Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Supernatural

On a little concrete triangle between the Canal St Martin and the Rue Jean Poulmarch a naked wall has been given over to groups of local artists. As the artists climb ladders and reach down into pots of paint, children run with footballs, using the wall paintings to mark out the contours of the goal. It is the kind of space that helps a city to tick, displaying a constantly changing selection of creations whilst also giving local children a safe space to fill their lungs. The two worlds exist in very picturesque harmony.

On the day I pass by to take photos though, I'm struck by the rather disquieting composition of the place. At first, all seems normal. Artists are at work, creating interesting, colourful pieces and the local children are running around as freely as usual. A desk has been set up in front of the wall - apparently you can add your name to a list in a book and get involved in future creations. Passers by all seem to have smiles on their faces as the sun at last brings warmth with light. To one side though, a tree showing the first signs of budding has two unwelcome intruders.

At first the sight is amusing. Trapped in a tangle of branches are a Velib bicycle and a green wheely bin. It is surprising. It makes passers by stop and I am not the only person to take photos, to search for the right angle to capture this unusual scene. When I stop to reflect though, it is a scene that makes me angry. On this space, the tree composition becomes a form of performance art, but just what message did the individuals involved want to pass on? The articles chosen are also heavy with significance, a Velib bicycle and a recycling bin are at the forefront of the attempts by the city of Paris to create a greener future, and trees are the lungs of the city. Combining the three is pure vandalism and an empty, nonsensical message.

On the wall, an artist is working on a representation of a tree. His tree has a face and is a living, breathing being, with leaves of pinks and yellows. It is a loving reproduction with seductive, swirling branches and flowers coming into bloom. The tree roots are bathed in a pool of water and a lush jungle is growing alongside. Are the artists aware of the anti-creation behind them? The only thing that is certain in the scene is that when the individuals made their creation (and it was surely more than one person - a Velib bicycle is very heavy!), nobody asked the tree if it wanted to be involved.

Visit the space with Google Street View!




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10 comments:

Cergie said...

Adam, j'ai trouvé ce dicton et il va très bien tomber aujourd'hui ! De plus il semble très connu.

"Le charme d'Adam est d'être à poil (le charme a des dents, le hêtre des poils) : c’est un petit dicton pour retenir la différence fondamentale entre le charme et le hêtre."

Les hêtres et les charmes sont "marcescents" dans leur jeunesse, propriété qu'ils perdent ensuite, comme les chênes pédonculés. Un arbre est un être vivant très complexe et unique, à connaitre et respecter absolument...

martha said...

I LOVE this Google function. It's the first time I've seen it. How wonderful.

I am conflicted about the tree art. On reflection it seems more and m ore like a very cynical comment on the city's attempts to push a green agenda. I think they are wrong. Velibs and recycling may n ot solve the problem, ut they are a step in the right direction.

Starman said...

I LOVE Google Street View. I think the inventor should be canonized.

Adam said...

I think Google Street View certainly enables me to give more (3D)depth to some of the areas in the city I'm discussing. However, it is becoming quite a controversial tool for some fiction writers who feel that it will interfere with their perspectives of a town and the subsequent interaction with their audience.

Wolynski said...

I love the way you find snippets of Paris and describe it so eloquently. Are you sure the tree is an art installation and not an accident?

Adam said...

Hi Wolynski

No, I can't be certain that it is an art installation as such, but this area is known as being a haunt of artists. The fact that this has been done here makes it into an art creation in my view even if it was just a group of bored, drunk kids who did it. I'm more inclined towards Martha's view that it's a comment on green issues and perhaps the inadequacy of the city solutions. I'm sure that message could have been made in another way though, without damaging a tree and risking having a heavy bicycle fall on a child's head.

Peter said...

I wonder who is paying the rent for the bike? Velib rents are very moderate the first hour, but then go up considerably. Somebody may get a surprise on the bank account.

I agree with you. The initiative to paint a naked wall like this is certainly very positive. The second kind of manifestation, whatever the nature of it or the intention may be is more than doubtful.

Starman said...

The velib is probably one of the hundreds that have been stolen.

Sandra said...

thanks for posting the pictures
Sandra

ArtSparker said...

Kids. I'd give them a pass, but not the people who are ignoring the stuff that's still up there...that they are artists gives the rest of us creative types a bad anme - letting down the side.

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