Friday, November 6, 2009

Who did JR shoot?

A family day out found us doing one of the most touristy of touristy things: a Bateaux Mouche ride down the River Seine.  As if the tour allowing you a duck's eye view of the fabulous buildings and bridges gracing the river weren't enough, we enjoyed some black and white photography of the most startling kind. 

The exhibition along the Seine was called "Women are Heroes" and featured enormous black and white photos of women's eyes.  The show's photographer simply goes by "JR," and his objective was to pay tribute to women from around the world (from 10 countries, across 4 continents). 

The photos were on billboard/poster paper, and as the exhibition ran for a month in the open air, the gradual erosion of the posters was intentional and only added to the ethereal quality of the images.

Here is a link for greater information on the Women are Heroes exhibition, including more examples of the photographs, as well as behind-the-scenes prep work required to create the collages.

See Franck and kids riveted by imagery at right.

@JR: you'd make Larry Hagman proud.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sisters doing it for themselves.

I took a trip recently to Chicago, a place that features the best architecture in any American city. I lived there in the 1990s, but it wasn't until this last trip through O'Hare that I learned that Chicago has been Paris' sister city since 1996.

Sometimes it's hard to know exactly what being a sister city does for you.  Good will, sure, and some "cultural exchanges" no doubt. But I found a really fun and tangible connection just south of the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue.  They erected a "Metra" station in the pattern of Hector Guimard's celebrated and fanciful entry ways to the Metropolitain, aka the métro (the existence of which was first introduced to me via a song by 80s new wave band Berlin.)

Guimard's work is quintessential Art Nouveau and in my estimation rates only second behind the Eiffel tower as the defining Parisian public art.  Not all métro stops have his designs- 86 of the 300 - and I marvel each time I see them; a quotidian reminder of why I'm here.  His first designs were unveiled concurrent with the métro itself at the Exposition Universelle in 1900.
Chicago's Metra is a rail system serving the suburbs. From, I learned that indeed the entrance was a gift of the Parisian Transit Authority (RATP), and they have been casting replacement parts and additional station entries from the original molds.

Sounds like cities of sisterly love, to me.