Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Paris Peculiar ~ 'Aimons, Alors!'

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesPeople ~ Art ~ 18th

Aimons, Alors!

Here's my original question, well two questions actually, from my fiendishly difficult Paris Photo Quiz, judging by the number of you who knew where it was..!

"What's the wall, and who's the wallflower?"

I should give you a bit of history first really. Well, not even history, it's just that this was one of the first things I photographed years ago as I was getting back into photography seriously, and starting to establish myself as a Paris street photographer. When I discovered this cool wall with this even cooler piece of street art above it, that was it: I was well and truly hooked.

But can you see something strange about it? If you look closely at it I think you can. I'll give you a clue, if you need one: how many women can you see? Women, or hints of women who used to be...

Well here you go: on the right below is a picture of the same wall from 2007 or 2006. Spot the difference if you can - not too difficult, is it? And look, I was into kooky angles even back then too. But back then it wasn't the same woman is it is today, it was the one who is now only a bit of oddly coloured concrete, but here's what that same wall used to look like...

I had to ask the artist Rue Meurt d'Art who it had been (and even who it now is today), so appalling is my knowledge of mid-twentieth century movie starlets amongst a lot of other things.

Do you know? Well I now know that it used to be Ava Gardner, who he has saying "Soyons raisonable... exigeons l'impossible", which is a quote from Che Guevara and means '[Let's] be reasonable [or 'realistic']; demand the impossible!'

It was such a glorious piece of art, and went so beautifully with Montmartre's 'I Love You' wall itself, and I was very sad when her head started to slowly peel off the wall from the top of her hair down. I have a picture of this melancholic event somewhere, with Ava in a sorry state taken through the rapidly disrobing branches of an autumn day.

Then she disappeared altogether, and it was like a hole in the urban landscape. Then one day she was back, or rather someone was back! And it was what you see at the top of this page (click to enlarge), the almost as ravishing Rita Hayworth, whose speech bubble tells us "Aimer c'est du désordre, alors aimons!", which means 'Loving is chaotic... so let's love!', and is by Rue Meurt d'Art, he tells me.

I saw Ava again just a few weeks ago, rolled up somewhere at the back of the artist's studio, and at the risk of sounding like the Queen after some dreadful catastrophy, I was both moved and shocked to see her in such a state of disrepair and despair.

All is not lost though. Rue Meurt d'Art tells me that he's going to do her up again and put her back where she was originally, years before I every met her, in his native Colombes in the north western suburbs of Paris, where he's been peacefully decorating their walls with gently political statements for 20 years.

Oh! I almost forgot. I also asked people doing my quiz what the theme of this picture was, and to give me three ways in which it was represented. Well the first is the text, which is about love. The second is that fact that we are here looking at Montmartre's famous 'I love you...' wall, with that emotion written in about 150 different languages. And the third is all of my own making - click on the picture to blow it up and enjoy that beautiful little hug one pigeon is giving to the other - awww ;-)

STOP PRESS: There's an interview with Rue Meurt d'Art coming very shortly (did you guess?) - keep an eye out for it here!
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* I run Photo and Curios Weeks and Tours in Paris, and also manage a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. I write an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, run a Meetup group for Paris lovers, and even contribute to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what I get up to out there...

© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, comments and requests are always welcome! J


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the interview!!!

Sab said...

Thanks - neither can I! Jean Marc is an artist and a sweetie, but he does things in his own time... :-D

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