Paris – Wednesday Morning

© 2012, Peter Marshall
The park next to Espace Central Dupon

Fortunately I’d been able to pick up one of the Mois de la Photo OFF booklets at the Speos Gallery the previous evening, as this morning although I could log on to the hotel’s wifi it wouldn’t give me Internet access. Linda had also bought a copy of the Paris listing magazines which also had most of the major shows, so we were able to make some plans for the day.

While on line the previous day I’d noticed that this was the last day for one of the shows in the Mois de la Photo, and as it was, like our hotel, in the 18th arrondissement and open from 9am we decided to start there (though a little later in the day.) It would have been a longish walk so we took the Metro, and then sat for a while in the park next door to the lab enjoying the atmosphere (with a sound track of screaming infants playing on the swings) and eating a croissant or two before going in to see the show at the Espace Central Dupon, one of Paris’s best pro labs.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
The statement for the show by Transit at Espace Central Dupon

The show there was by a collective called Transit, celebrating their ten years of existence since they were founded in 2002 by Nanda Gonzague and David Richard – who were later joined by Bastien DefivesAlexandra Frankewitz and finally Alexa Brunet, and the text suggested that such loose collectives as this might be particular to French photography. I wasn’t sure about this, but it was an interesting thought, and some years ago I’d written a couple of pieces about a similar grouping, ‘Tendance Floue‘ (and last year here) which was referred to in the wall text as setting the pattern for such groups.

The show itself had some interesting work, some dealing with issues that I’ve also been involved with such as anti-capitalist protests and staged events, but with a truly annoying lack of captions. After some minutes I discovered a single double-side sheet on a table to the side of the show which had thumbnails and brief captions, and photographed it. Even this was defective, in particular that it didn’t tell you which of the photographers had taken the picture. It would have been rather better to have had captions on the wall next to the pictures as they were essential to appreciating the work. There are pictures that don’t need captions – but these certainly did.

From there the Metro took us to a show where I was confident of being able to pick up the printed brochure about the Mois de la Photo, at the Maison de l’Architecture en Ile-de-France, which was showing Jean-Pierre Porcher‘s ‘Le Corbusier, Une Promenade Picturale‘.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Jean-Pierre Porcher’s Le Corbusier, Une Promenade Picturale at the Maison de l’Architecture en Ile-de-France

The images were large colour semi-abstract works made in some of Le Corbusier’s buildings, and it was possible in some at least to see the connection between the images and the buildings in which they were made, with some recognisable elements. Some were hung on the walls, but most were displayed in frames laid horizontally or at a slight tilt on top of a number of tables in the middle of the space.

The high quality inkjet prints certainly had a powerful presence, and were notable for the purity of their colours, though for me the effects, perhaps produced through multiple exposures and other tricks of photography were somewhat at odds with the clarity and precision of modernist architecture. The colour too in some images perhaps reminded me more of Mondrian than Le Corbusier. Again the captions were separated from the works, which were numbered but apparently displayed in fairly random order, making it a little difficult to find the several images based on the building with which I was most familiar, the Villa Savoye at Poissy, having photographed it myself a few years ago.

And as expected, I was able to pick up a printed copy of the programme for the Mois, an essential document for the rest of my visit. Of course the Mois has a good web site, but the logistics of going to see shows is complicated by dates and is opening days and times. Most smaller galleries only open in the afternoons, and are generally closed on Sundays and Mondays. Most places are closed on Mondays but shows that take place in business premises are generally open from Mondays to Fridays from some time in the morning until around 6pm. Lots of places are open on Saturdays, rather more on Saturday afternoons and rather fewer on Sundays – mainly in the afternoon. I think the well-prepared visitor would set up a spreadsheet or data base and spend several weeks planning their visit, but I use more primitive methods – like going through the booklets about the Mois and scrawling M for morning, SM for Saturday and D for Sunday at the side of appropriate entries. In previous years I’ve downloaded and printed out a PDF version to plan in advance, but this year I’d been too busy.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
After lunch

A second reason for going to the show at the Maison de l’Architecture was that it was on the way to the bistrot where I wanted to eat lunch, somewhere in the 20e, though it gets crowded enough without me giving it a free advert. Another thing I’d forgotten to do before I came to Paris was to check exactly where it was, but fortunately it didn’t take too long to find.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Buttes Chaumont

Afterwards we took a short walk to our favourite Paris park (full or larger screaming kids taking part in some sort of race), looking rather good in Autumn colours, before I decided it was time to make my way to Paris Photo.

A version of this post, with more images will eventually appear on My London Diary for November 2012.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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