Monday, January 17, 2011

Week Three – Day 15 - Beaubourg

Last night after dinner we explored the area around the Cite, including the parking lot and the neighboring Municipal Court building plaza. We tried to go up on the fifth floor to see the spectacular views but the terrace doors were locked. Window-shopping at night is the best. You are prevented from entering the shops! What makes Paris so unique and amazing is the number of specialty shops. In the radius around our building, on the small streets, there were at least 6 shops that sold various levels of papers, pencils, and portfolios, all looked expensive and some where of such a luxurious level that I would almost be wary of entering the shop. At first I thought that what makes Paris so different from Manhattan in New York or San Francisco is the density, but after running the numbers, NYC is still way denser even after comparing Île-de-France (the Paris metropolitan area) with NYC.

Went back to the Centre Pompidou to view some videos. Saw an interview with Jean Tinguely, who is best known for his sculptural machines or kinetic art, in the Dada tradition; known officially as metamechanics. Tinguely and Niki de St. Phalle created the sculpture garden at the Beaubourg in 1983, and we are lucky enough to have a signed print by them of the garden.

Tinguely made me think of San Francisco machine artist Kal Spelletich, who is Artistic Director of SEEMEN, and who has made dozens of elegant, menacing, and incredible robots which are fire-breathing works of post-industrial folk art.

I also watched a video about Orlan. I had seen her photographs on the weekend at the La Maison Europeenne de La Photographie ville de Paris but didn’t really know of her. She is a French performance artist who has used surgery as an artistic medium. The video of her surgery was a bit hard to watch. Her idea is to not have cosmetic surgery in the sense of beautification but rather to just change her appearance.

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