After whingeing about the snobby snooty necrophiliac
art crowds of the 16° district in Paris, I decided to
brave the west side again to check out the Palais De
Tokyo, which is smack in the rich American tourist zone.
Bordered by the Eiffel Tower, The Arch de Triumph; the
Louvre and St. Germain De Pres, and with streets all
named after US presidents, it's a scary place to be
wandering around with blond hair, a pink polar fleecy,
levi jeans and an anglophonic french. (kid you not;
its my new look).
the last time I ventured into the Musee de Art Moderne
De Ville De Paris was in 2000. I'd just returned from
the Biennale De Lyon. Called "Partage De Exotisisms"
it was concentrated in some massive hangar on the edge
of the city,where some friends of ours had seen
Aerosmith live. The Biennale was even more mind
blowing than Aerosmith live. The pigs being squashed
by steamrollers was pretty cool, as were the tattooed
human skins in perspex, and there was a great beaded
kitchen, and some birds in this amazing netted
enclosure; and some fantastic post colonial
primitivist consumer art sculptures, but my favoruite
was the insane table settings with curtains composed
of human hair arranged into scripts on sheets of
After this, the dodgy self indulgent, set of post
object art millenial angst at the Palais de TOkyo made
me extremely cross. It was like first draft on a
really bad day. No worse. Like Artspace on a really
Bad day. No. worse. It was big, it went on and on. It
was like Art express on a good Day. It convinced me
that contemporary French art was dead as a doornail.
OK That, and seeing way to much bad expressionism at
the electron libre squat. Either way, I stayed away.
Tthis year I was too stupid and jetagged to get myself
down to Lyon for the Biennale, so Imissed the tattoed pigs.
Still cursing myself, coz
of great Lyonnaise friends living in squats and 20
euro train tickets I could have bought too. Bugger.
However, at least I had less opportunities to be let
down by the Palais de Tokyo.
Not that I needed to, because, the french have
discovered cool britannia, and that contemporary art
is FUN, cool, and cutting edge. In 2002 Nicholas
Bourriand took over the palais de Tokyo which
was extremely maligned by more than me, and he did
manage to turn it around.
so now, its open from midday until midnight, 6 days a
week. Civilised! there's a bar downstairs and a
restaurant nearby. This is good, coz the nightlife on
the surrounding streets is comparable to Sydney. It's
like Chatswood! the bar was full of scary looking
ubercool people wearing coloured clothing. (this is
why i disguised myself in the pink blonde levis getup
- stops people noticing the armani glasses). entry is
Free for people on the dole, and artists and students
get in for ONE EURO.
The guy on the desk was one of those snooty french
types who insist that their appalling " iggsgyerse erm
meer bert oow der Iye kner yer er erteesd?" english is
better than my reasonable fluent french, so I told him
to do a google search.
Not to worry.
The current show is a "showcase" of 30 contemporary
artists residing in or originally from France. Called "OUr history, an emerging frenhc artistique scene" its a nice uppity sort of perspecta, with a refreshing minimum of bad expressionism and dodgy porn. Click
on the title above for an online showcase. the work
was punchy, bright, fun, aesthetically seductive and
MEANINGFUL. Lots of nice punchy politicla stuff about
the Sarkozy and the new right in France (Barthélémy Toguo) and the war
on terror. Lots of french joke about sausages. A big
corner devoted to that great guy who scams free stuff
everywhere. (http://www.laurett.net) A great installation about newspapers(wang du) and
some vapid Jim dine ripoffs. (mathieu mercier). Hell! the whole thing reminded me of the optimism in london gourmet food shops. "British Cuisine is not anoxymoron! look we got good food!" So there is good frenhc contemporary art, just like good english food. its just that on the whole art is still quite an elitist activity. Most of the french political activists I know NEVER go to art galleries, but they do go to music concerts and buy CD's. Event he great big art squat on Rue de rRivoli has been gunnerized> HJARD TO GET INTO, official studio space for recognized artists, but even 5 years ago when it was a squat, the only squatters I knew having shows in the free space were etrangers........ Art may be cool but its has yet to gain street cred.
I foudn out something disturbing about the French.
They don't teach art in highschools. so no wonder art is
such a strange elitist thing, and no wonder so much
contemporary art looked like bad art Express for so
long. I think the reason for the current rennaissance
is the influence of etrangers, immigrants, students,
travellers. viva Ryan Air!
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