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Sunday, 8 November 2015


Paris (2014)

I've visited Paris every year at least once since 2012. Each trip has been different, offering a variation of views on the French capital. The first trip was quite rushed yet that added to the thrill and excitement, we had one hiccup, as of course things didn't run as smoothly as we had planned, due mainly to the fact that we didn't plan! Our main problem was finding a hotel/hostel with vacancies that fell within our limited budget. The main reason we left in a hurry was because we wanted to find an alternative to London; instead of resorting to dancing in the usual spaces and seeing the same faces. So we gathered what we had on us and left for Paris! By day we did all the usual things such as Eiffel Tower, Versailles & The Louvre, and by night we partied at Le Social and some other pop up party.

 The 2nd was more planned and chilled, it was more to party and have fun, no agenda just enjoy being somewhere else. We visited galleries, mostly the smaller ones with newer art and younger artists on show. Needless to say not all of it was good; in fact, If I were to be brutally honest, most it wasn't. We ended up stumbling upon a Walter Pffiefer exhibit, with the artist present. It was great to talk to him about his work whilst being surrounded by it.

This time around (our 3rd) was a far more cultural experience. In the city renowned for its cultural institutions like The Louvre (home to the Mona Lisa) and Centre Pompidou, we wanted to experience Paris for this purpose. We'd all been to The Lourve more than once so decided not to visit on this occasion, we all wanted to do things we had neither seen, nor done before.

The Shows/ Galleries
Addict Gallerie – The Last Shooting Kurt Cobain.

Aside from the controversial title (The Last Shooting) the Kurt Cobain exhibit was a nice little treat. Compact yet concise. The exhbit largely focused on one of the bands last sittings. It was filled with polaroids, negatives & props worn on set for the shoot. Luke being a Nirvana fan, loved what he saw. The space was relaxed, and as an extra homage and mood setter the band’s music played softly through the speakers. Across the road was a cute little book store dedicated to books created both by, and for artists.

Wilhelm Von Gloeden- Photographs 1880-1915- Galerie Au Bonheur du Jour, Paris

This was a cute exhibition, if you can call it that!? Reminiscent of the times when galleries weren't the monstrous institutions that they are today, more intimate and one on one. The gallery assistant was a lady who had worked at the place for 25 years, telling us tales of the art system and how it’s changed, and the beauty of Wilhelm’s work. There was passion for the artist who's work decorated the walls, not just for money, but for people to see his work and both remember and appreciate him. Of course the art now is risqué with boys of questionable ages in various degrees of undress. Von Gloeden will always be a template for the photographers that came after and that's what makes his work so interesting it captures young men silently and subtlety without being overtly erotic or sexually stimulating.

Mapplethrope- Grand Palais 

The blockbuster of the trip was the Mapplethope exhibit, housed in the Grand Palais (a juggernaut in its own right) and a well-deserved accomplishment for the artist. I've desperately wanted to see a Robert Mapplethrope exhibit in the same way I've wanted to see a Haring or Basquait one. Pawing through their books is all well and good but nothing beats seeing the art in a gallery and in the flesh. Robert has long been a favourite of mine and to see him honoured in such a grand way was amazing. The exhibit was a comprehensive insight into the artist's mind. Bodies and flowers blurred to become sculptures. Yet my favourite part of it all wasn't seeing the glistening black bodies of men and people not often seen in art, and furthermore adorning the walls of galleries! To me it was his portraits and the personalities he captured effortlessly from his friends, lovers and other contemporaries. It felt like a complete separate body of work from his most prominent art.  His sexual work was behind a curtain protecting those not of age and it felt like entering a boudoir, explicit whilst exploring and documenting the sexual appetite of men for men. That's why I love Mapplethope, he was who he was and was unashamed to show that, whether it be through his racy self-portraits, men kissing men or the beautiful image of two crowned men dancing.. Here was equality for men loving men, and  equality for ethnic minorities. He spoke, in fact screamed about a life that was all but in the shadows, and it was such a shame his death was caused by the silence that surrounded aids.  

Beyond Galleries

I had long heard tales of those who traveled to Paris to pay homage to the great, witty wordsmith that was Oscar Wilde, and I thought since I was there on a cultural visit, who better to go and visit?! Oscar was a man who has contributed so much and inspired so many (myself included). So we (well I) wanted to track down Oscar Wilde’s grave at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.  

It was sad that you could no longer adorn his grave with a kiss, none the less I wanted to see the place where the great man was laid to rest. It was quite hard to find but worth it in the end.

Luke wanted to visit the love lock bridge with Jacob and after securing locks onto the Bridge, we took a stroll along the Seine. It was on our last night and we planned to walk from our apartment to the Eiffel tower. Overall it took an hour or more, but was an interesting adventure, taking in the cities sights and sounds and it turned out to be a fun little stroll! The bank was littered with activities and things to do. Climbing frames, mazes and  Ikea kitchens in shipping containers. 

It was a great way to bring out the inner kid in a city that’s sometimes really uptight. We never intended to go up the tower especially as by the time we arrived it was around 3am, we just wanted to marvel at it, sit underneath it and talk as we took in one of the cities most iconic monuments. To me it seemed like a great way to acknowledge where we were and bid our farewells.

Even if it's once a year, from now on I must make it a mission to see the art on offer in Paris more often! And also the city which is rich in architectural beauties and open spaces allowing for quiet  contemplation. Couple that with 'it galleries' and the shows on offer and you're pretty much in for a treat, an escape from reality! There was also so much more to see and do but with so little time, such as a visit Versailles, The Catacombs, The Dries Von Noten exhibit at Les Arts Decoratifs & Musee  d’Orsay.

We travelled on ID bus from London Victoria to Paris Bercy. The journey was smooth and comfortable clocking in at just under nine hours, although depending on the time you travel you could be savvy and get a coach that takes less time. None the less with the EU charger plugs and wifi, the time will fly by just as my trip did! Of course, it helped to have an iPad loaded with downloads from BBC iplayer and 4OD, along with books and the general downtime time awarded by travelling between the two places.

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