AUG 16 – Paris, the house starves when you are away.

   Rule #1: Paris dies on August 15. Literally. Everything (except for bistros and big restaurants) is closed. So I won’t bother writing a post about it, because all I did was walk around and hang out with some friends. 
   So let’s jump to August 16. Because it’s high season, museums are packed, and you can wait up to one hour at the door and that is why I decided to go pretty early to the Jeu de Paume, located in the Tuilleries garden, across the Louvre if you want. I was there at 11:30 with my cousin (it opens its doors at 11:30). To my surprise it was empty. JDP is one of my favorite museums in Paris. The place itself is beautiful and they always have very interesting exhibitions. There were two exhibitions today: Lorna Simpson and Ahlam Shibli. 
   This is Lorna Simpson (1960, Brooklyn, New York)’s first major exhibition in Europe. Throughout her pictures and her videos, we notice that the artist uses her camera to raise questions about identity and sex, genre and history, race and social status, fact and fiction.Through her pictures, and inseparable text, the music/noises she picks out for her videos, her reinterpretation of old photographs, she questions “true” photography. For some of the work of this exhibition, Simspon used traditional photography techniques that she combines with text. For others, she creates a new associations such as old photographs with reinterpreted photographs, silkscreen on felt with writing and images…

Five Day Forecast, 1988, 5 black-and-white prints, 15 engraved plastic plaques.
Photographs 24 x 20 inches each, 24 1/2 x 97 inches overall.

Waterbearer, 1986 , Gelatin silver print, vinyl lettering.
Photograph 45 x 77 (framed), 55 x 77 inches overall.

Stereo Styles, 1988. 10 Polaroid prints, 10 engraved plastic plaques.

Photographs 35 x 31 inces each, plaques 3 x 6 inches each, 66 x 116 inches overall.

   As I mentioned, the second artist is Palestinian photographer Ahlam Shibli. Her works deals with the loss of home and the combat against this loss, but also the restrictions and limitations that the idea of home imposes on individuals. Amongst the places that face this problematic, we can consider the occupied palestinian territories; french monuments that clearly commemorate those who resisted against the nazi occupation and the soldiers that fought the colonial wars that were against people claiming their independence, the bodies of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transexuals from eastern societies; and communities of polish children in orphanage.

   The first series is entitled Trackers (2005). It focuses on Palestinians of Bedouin origins, volunteering in the Israeli army. It’s the price the colonized minorities have to pay to the majority, whether to be accepted, to change their identity… The portraits are either in B&W or colors. Shibli captured various moments of their daily lives: training, neighborhood, their family, details of their homes (paintings, newspaper…) and even their cemeteries where tombstones are engraved in arabic and hebrew.  

   The second series is entitled Eastern LGBT (2004-2005). LGBT means Lesbian/Gays/Bisexual/Transexual. It represents people who left their native eastern countries, such as Pakistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey and Somialia because they were forbidden to lead the life they wish. They moved to more open minded western countries, and settled in Zurich, Barcelona or London. The pictures represent Gay Pride Parades, people in the process of transformation (putting on make-up, wigs and costumes) from daytime jobs, such as policeman, to nighttime cabaret dancers. 

   The third series is entitled Dom Diezcka – The house starves you are away (Poland – 2008). “Dom Diezcka” means house of children/maisons d’enfants. She exposes their living conditions. These kids are hardly ever alone. They have a close physical relation, not sexual. They are always in pairs or more. So you end up with pictures of them getting on the bus to go to school, in playtime, waking up, texting before sleeping, watching TV, reading, cleaning… They don’t really have a choice, and have to learn to cooperate and live with the other and share everything, which actually builds them into becoming strong and generous people.

   The fourth and latest series is entitled Death (Palestine, 2011-2012). The description starts with a quote by a well-know Palestinian writer, Ghassan Kanafani, “I shall not return until I plant my paradise on earth or else reap a paradise from the sky or die or we all die together”. For this collection, she tried to be neutral and not take side. She represents both sides that were harmed/killed during the Second Intifada (2000-2005). 

   After a couple of hours there, my cousin and I walked around, looking for a cool place to have lunch. One thing I try to avoid in Paris are the restaurants/bistros on big boulevard, they are usually very commercial and tourist-populated. I like to go in the small streets and find these authentic Parisian restaurants where locals go to. So after a while, we found  a small Indian restaurant and have some Byriani (rice with a gazillion spices). I don’t know what got over us when we decided “Oh yeah, let’s go to Lafayette!” (never go to Lafayette). I took an inevitable shot: 
Kenzo and Playmobil.
   Before going back home, I stopped by Le Bon Marche and was blow away by the beautiful display of their fancy bottles of water: 

   Later in the afternoon, I met up with some friends and had drinks in a bar in St Germain des Pres, called Le Basile, the bar of Sciences Po Paris student, because it’s right across their “campus”. I ended up having dinner with them and their parents (family friends) in a DELICIOUS italian restaurant called Cherche Midi, after the street its on. They serve homemade pasta that is divine! 


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