Paris street art: A final round-up / Un assortiment final
Sadly, I am leaving Paris tomorrow, and I very much doubt I’ll have time today for one of my street art seeking walks, so this will be my last post showing pictures on the subject – at least until I come back, whenever that may be. (In the meantime I may do posts on the art in general, or on the artists I’m most interested in, but it’s less fun if I’m not taking the pictures, and it’s less fun if the pictures are dated.)
The news today is that, as noted in the opening ETA section of my last post, I’ve discovered – to my great delight – the artist behind the elaborate masks gracing the 11ème (after she graciously answered a query I put out about it on facebook). The artist in question is BauBô, whose very interesting website (which incorporates essays and slam poetry among photos of her visual work) seems to indicate that she intends through her work to explore the feminine – or perhaps, more precisely, perceptions of the feminine, the tyranny of gender roles, et cetera. She’s got a particularly interesting project going on right now called Pacman vs Tetris, an example of which I came across in the 11ème a week or so ago (pictured above).
I only wish I had come across more of these, as, judging by the one pictured above and the photos on her website, they are really awesome. For one thing, from what I understand based on the site, the idea seems to be to comment on the ways girls are socialized to play – or not to play. As a life-long (female) lover of video games, I am a big, big fan of commentary along these lines (don’t get me started on the way girls in the West have been discouraged from playing video/computer games).
In any case, BauBô’s masks series also continues in the general vicinity of my soon-to-be-ex apartment:
As you can see, by the time I came across and photographed this grouping, it had clearly lost some of its masks in a way similar to the loss (or removal) of masks from the mandala I discussed in my last post. As of this afternoon it had lost yet a few more… I’ll forego putting up a picture, as I have nothing particularly new to say (or ask) on the subject, though I continue being fascinated by the ephemeral quality present here (as in all street art), the role of lack / removal, etc. I find it interesting, as well, that despite my great curiosity on the subject of what exactly is going on with the removal of these masks, I’ve avoided asking the artist what she thinks on the subject. So perhaps the mystery, the opening up of possibilities, is part of the appeal?
Speaking of la Rue de la Main D’Or (the place where I found the Pacman vs Tetris), I only discovered last week that it, and the neighboring Passage de la Main D’Or (former home of the “place au peuple” grouping I’ve talked about so often now) are goldmines of street art… and only a couple of blocks from my house. I would figure this out immediately before leaving and despite having found “place au peuple” in it *facepalm*. In any case it yielded a bunch of interesting stuff. Today, for instance, I found 3 “new” miss.tic oeuvres, all at street level and thus easy to miss:
I’m intrigued by the fact that every miss.tic piece I’ve seen has been at or very near street level – I had to kneel to take all three of those photos. Why? A fair bit of street art is very low down (and even more is very high up), but the stuff I see low to the ground isn’t usually this elaborate. Miss.tic’s pieces also seem to always be sprayed on the walls of businesses – nearly always under the front windows – and I have a hunch a few are there with the owners’ permission; certainly I have a sense of their being more permanent in some way than most of the street art I see. What’s the story here? Miss.tic has been around since the mid-80s; is it a form of respectability?
The Passage is currently sporting a massive mash-up by many artists – it’s clearly a place, like the little square on my street, where this is commonly the case. The mash-up (which has changed since last week) was impossible to photograph all at once, but here’re my best attempts. First, the east wall, which seems to consist largely of one (“one”) work with multiple authors, “Mustafukaz tribute”:
Mustafukaz seems to be a bande déssinée, but I’m not familiar with it and thus don’t understand the references. I do know that the diamond-shaped pieces up at the top (the alien for instance) are signature Bastek works (check out that link for, among other things, pictures of the tribute new and in better shape). Codex Urbanus seems to do a lot of animal figures and is, I assume, responsible for the cockroaches. (On a side note, my appalling cockroach phobia, normally set off even by depictions of them, is not triggered if they’re multicolored. Who knew?)
I was pleased to find, inside the tribute, the remains of toctoc‘s Frankenstein figure, created in honor of Hallowe’en along with his Chucky figure and the figure from Scream that I’ve already posted:
Hogre (who it turns out is mostly based in Rome) had weighed in at some point, turning the tribute into a mash-up:
High up on the wall was (and still is) a figure by a mosaicist (I don’t know who it is – yet) who has put up several very cool works of this kind in that intersection:
Other figures by the same artist are scattered nearby, often difficult to see because they’re fairly small and usually high up:
Then there’s the south wall of the tiny square, which is, if possible, even more covered in graffiti/art, some of it reaching all the way up the building (I’m always impressed when they manage to cover such broad surfaces so high up). Space Invader and a Gzup octopus feature in the mash-up:
On the 12th, sign language was featured underneath the above mash-up (I have no idea who the artist is for this either, or what the message is, if there is one):
There was also this rather unusual artifact (gone as of the 18th), painted on a piece of newspaper glued to a torn-off piece of cardboard attached to a pole:
I’ve also discovered, thanks to his papering of the square near my apartment, the graffitist JPM (JP Morvan), whose work seems to be concentrated around celebrating graffiti itself. As a huge comics geek I was delighted to see this tribute (unfortunately already gone) to Becassine, the first female comic strip heroine (of one of the first comic strips):
Other JPM works gracing the wall, some of which are still there:
(The above is rather confusing – it appears to be a reference to someone named Philippe Coutellier, who appears to be a friend of JPM’s but may or may not be a street artist himself. The internet is not always very helpful, is it?)
Then there was a really rather awesome, if quite busy, mash-up on the same wall, some of which has been taken down in the week since:
Here I give Paddy props for the woman with the machine gun; I may not be a fan of his figures taking selfies, but this image kinda rocks. And something about the mash-up, busy as it is, works for me. It’s vibrant. I do wish I knew who was putting up all the cartoons featuring exclamation points – the internet isn’t helping me with that either.
[ETA 12/22/12: The "Exclamation point artist" has turned out to be Maxime Aum. Hooray for the internet after all!]
Here we have two of the six or seven of the Maxime Aum works on my block hanging out with the pink bear by K I mentioned in my last smorgasbord post:
[edited 12/21/12] (I won’t post now all the pictures I have of the exclamation points cartoons, which I see more and more, but I may do later posts on specific artists, including Maxime Aum.) [/edited]
Back to Passage Saint-Bernard. Currently there’s this, unsigned. It’s one of 2-3 pieces I’ve spotted lately that look like miss.tic’s style but which I either can tell (due to the signature) or strongly suspect are not by her:
There’s also this small tile installation up on one wall, which seems to have been written on by several different people and which I can’t make heads or tails of:
In other news, a feminist (and apparently lesbian) graffitist likes to spray-paint political statements on the sidewalk Rue de Charonne. For example:
I’m not sure that fits into the category of street art – whatever “street art” means – but I rather like seeing these around.
Finally, for now (as I said, I may post on this again even once I’m back in the states), I’ll end with FatCat, whose whimsical little drawings/tags cheer me up (though they never seem to last more than a couple of days):
And that’s it (again, at least for now). I leave Paris in less than 36 hours, to go back to a place with no street art beyond some tagging (and tagging tends to profoundly bore me). I have to admit that losing the street art scene – its ever-changing-ness, its providing jolts of interest or joy in otherwise tiring or dull days, its freshness, its changing the face of the city day to day – losing it, I was saying, is a major part of my current distress around leaving. I just discovered that I love this stuff, and I live on a street with galleries devoted to street art that I never even had time to check out (I just found out I missed a showing this very Saturday)… eh, I suppose c’est la vie. I am a French citizen; I can come back, if I find a way to live. And maybe there’s a way to stay involved in the scene from afar, if only by enviously trolling other websites. But still… I’ll miss taking my walks and spotting new Space Invaders and toctocs and Gzups and miss.tics and BauBôs and Ks and Soldats Inconnus and all the work by all the amazing artists combing this city. Goodbye for now, Paris street art.