Saturday, 24 October 2009

scene from a dream

A small group of people are gathered at the facade of the south gallery of the Pompidou Centre. There is a lot of giggling, a few gasps, a shriek of laughter. Everyone is trying to see through the gap between the black curtains.

There is a woman on a stage, talking to an attentive audience. The room is packed out, people are sitting closely and standing all around the sides and at the back. A pair of black high heeled shoes lie on the stage beside the woman. She is entirely naked.

Centre Pompidou 23.10.2009
Andrea Fraser Official Welcome

Sunday, 18 October 2009

punk choreography in retro futuristic city

Last night we took the lilac coloured metro line (number 8) all the way to the final station, Creteil-Prefecture (those e's are missing accents but I am writing with an english keyboard). It is eight stops beyond the official limit of Paris, the peripherique. I will save the topic of the peripherique for a later post, all I want to highlight here is that we were in the 'banlieues' - the suburbs, not in Paris. From the metro station we followed signs to the Maison des Arts. Across a car park and into a shopping centre. Along the internal streets, shops closing, the last shoppers heading to the car park. Out through door 26. Onto a raised pedestrian walkway, past a Chinese restaurant. It is dark, and very cold for mid October. This central part of Creteil appears to have been entirely built in the 1960's and 70's. It is a dense ensemble of apartment blocks and civic buildings, knitted together by high level walkways and plazas. The Maison des Arts is on the place Salvador Allende (good name, Chilean connection), whose wavy black, white and red striped paving brings to mind Bridget Riley's paintings. It is beautiful. A shimmering graphic pattern, across which dark figures are making their way to the arts house, to see the new dance piece by the Michael Clark Company.

six dancers wear dark blue, two wear white :::::: they are moving from right to left across the stage, walking, slowly, legs stretched out, kicking out in front :::::: the blue figures disappear and the white pair remain :::::: the blue figures reappear on the right and continue across the stage again :::::: a shaft of white light moves slowly across the stage from right to left

White Light / White Heat by the Velvet Underground :::::: loud, louder than you could ever have it at home, so loud so that you listen to it differently :::::: the stage is bare, a black floor and a white backdrop :::::: on the left of the stage a dancer wearing brilliant shiny silver leggings appears, she runs a jerky strutting run, she runs a tight circle and disappears :::::: then the same on the right hand side of the stage :::::: then more dancers in the same metallic leggings, running, strutting, the stage is full :::::: white light reflects off their legs, white light dances across the stage

later on / the white screen has turned orange, the orange light reflects off the black floor :::::: dancers in bright orange :::::: Aladdin Sane by David Bowie ::::::: a vigorous dance, energy accumulates :::::: until one male dancer is left on the stage, suddenly the music changes :::::: The Jean Genie :::::: and the orange screen snaps to turquoise :::::: the lone orange figure against the glowing turquoise is an image that is seared into my consciousness

These are tiny extracts from the two dance pieces we saw. The first was Swamp from 1986, and the second was come, been and gone, Michael Clark's newest piece. This latest piece is a hommage to the 'holy trinity' of rock music - Lou Reed, David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Hommage isn't quite the right word, it takes the music as a starting point and develops something new and quite exhilarating. Previously unknown or unheard layers, melodies, sounds are extracted from these familiar songs, they are explored and excavated, their insides and hidden corners revealed. Partly because we are listening to the recording super loud on a very high quality theatre PA, partly because the dancers pick out sounds and melodies and dance them.

/ SWAMP / come, been and gone

17.10.2009 CRETEIL Maison des Arts

On tour for the next year or so. Go see...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

we must cultivate our garden

photo: Liz Nall / Bella Edgley

Nathan Coley: 'we must cultivate our garden'

This is one of three artworks by Scottish artist Nathan Coley, installed for the night of 3/4 October as part of La Nuit Blanche in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Paris. The other two read 'there will be no miracles here' and 'gathering of strangers'. Last year in the Folkestone Triennale I came across a similar piece saying 'heaven is a place where nothing ever happens'.
I like the deadpan quality of the phrases. And I love love love the photo that Liz and Bella took.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

white night : full moon : the surrealists favourite park in paris

above: Noel Dolla 'chauds les marrons'
below: Rune Gunneriussen 'don't leave the lights on'

la nuit blanche
03 october 2009
parc des buttes chaumont
75019 Paris

the wall

behind the wall are bright lights
disco lights
behind the wall is music
behind the wall is an ice rink
a swimming pool
behind the wall are people gliding sliding wobbling laughing
in goggles and swimming costumes

in front of the wall the street is bathed in flat streetlamp light that manages to be both orange and grey at the same time

in front of the wall are several people, looking closely at the wall
maybe at the world behind the wall, but also at the wall itself

it is a very thick wall, sturdy and strong

it is also light and delicate, a kind of fuzz of a wall

La Piscine-Patinoire Pailleron, 30 rue Edouard Pailleron, 75019 / Marc Mimram Architecte / 03 october 2009 / la nuit blanche)

Friday, 25 September 2009

splendid regards

Journées de Patrimoine/Open House/Dias del Patrimonio/European Heritage Days

Last weekend 19 20 September. Indian summer sunshine. European Curiousity Days, European Nosy Days. An international pouring over of pdf print out guides; picking out of buildings; working out of routes; sprucing up of courtyards and hallways; queueing and squeezing; peering and listening.

We wanted to keep it simple and stay in the neighbourhood. A staircase leads from our street rue de l'Ermitage down to the rue des Cascades and at the bottom when you turn right there is a small stone building with a pitched roof made of the same pale sandstone. Four years previously this building was open and we had a memorable visit. Inside is a small channel of water, gently stepping down under one's feet. A tunnel big enough to crawl along disppears up the hillside. It is lined with candles, their light reflected by small stream. It is a magical world beneath the hill we live on. Always there underneath our route to the boulangerie, to the metro, to the supermarket or the bus stop. We are high up up here, approaching the summit of the hill of Menilmontant (the highest hill in Paris) and the geology - layers of chalk and clay, has created two 'nappes' of water - natural underground reservoirs. Since the 12th century this water has been captured and channelled, initially for drinking, to supply a nearby hospital, and then to supply the fountains of Paris. This building is one of several. Known as 'regards', they are simply places where the water could be inspected. Today there is still a small trickle, as the geology remains the same and the water still comes naturally from the ground. But most of the channels and aqueducts have been assimilated into the sewer system. The buildings are classed as historic monuments and are cared for by a loving association - 'Les Sources du Nord'.

This year we wanted to see the 'Regard de la Lanterne', the grandest of all the regards, at the Place des Fetes on the top of the hill. We had to queue for a while, during which time we were entertained and educated by a very entertaining and informative Monsieur. The Regard de la Lanterne is where three channels of water from the nappe feed into a small basin which in turn feeds the aqueduct of Belleville - the principal channel in the system. Again, the function of this building was nothing more than to allow for inspection of the waters and channels. As our guide drily emphasised, if such a system was built today, then nothing more than a 50mm pipe would carry the water, with a small box for inspection, all hidden away. But this system was built in another era when things were done differently. There was more grandeur and more ceremony. There was a desire to celebrate technology. People wore big hats and cloaks and the buildings they built had to accomodate them properly.
So intead of a pipe and a box, there is a cylindrical stone building with a dome. Inside one steps onto a double staircase that curves around the pool of water under the lantern of the dome. It is splendid and beautiful.

Monday, 21 September 2009

new feet, fresh eyes and curious ears

After far too many months languishing in the cupboard the thin shoes have been put back on. This time a rather more chic pair than those that walked me round Chile. These shoes are in Paris.

Four years in London and now I'm back in Paris. It is quite strange to return. To mix the familiar and the foreign. A new job, the same flat. A different morning bike ride, the same boulangerie in the evening. New flats and new families in the courtyard out the back, built around the same tree that has a beautiful name that we have both forgotten. The same market stall holders (the lady with a soft spot for Memo, the man with a long beard who sells fresh herbs), a new community garden full of flowers and tomato plants.

Proper posting will start soon.. (once the camera charger has been located amongst the flotsam and jetsam of moving house).