Feed Your Head (continued)

Just another day in Paris…From journal entry, January 2016: “Heather raved about the Palais de Tokyo when she was here (with An American in Paris), couldn’t believe I had never been, so I was excited when Vava said she wanted to go while she was here…Took the Métro to Iéna, a street market in full swing, even in the rain…

DSC02430Just after 12 on a Saturday, perfect time to arrive. No line, no crowd. It’s France, people are still having lunch. The cashier told us a “secret” tour of the LASCO project was about to start: collection of street artists invited to tag and graf the cinderblock stairwells and emergency exits in the basement.

Our young guide had a very heavy Quebec accent, kept talking about “graffards” (like “cafards”) and I thought it was a new word for street artist. Took me a few minutes to figure out this was his cool French Canadian pronunciation of “graffeurs.” Explaining how important this exhibit is for the museum, he insisted these artists aren’t vandals (like the ones who spraypaint trees in my neighborhood), are graduates of the elite Beaux Arts. Yet most are very loyal to street esthos and adamant about the ephemeral quality of their work. Case in point: Philippe Baudelocque’s fragile swirling constellations in powdery chalk:

DSC02443Also loved Cleon Peterson’s “Power” murals:


and Vhil’s pocked, jack-hammered portraits:


Then backtracked to the more official museum “La Vie Magnifique” exhibits. Ragnar Kjartansson’s installations about poetic repetitions of clichés in modern life: looping gif films on huge screens (a house burning down in the woods, a woman swimming laps while a small dog runs barking beside the pool, Nordic children in period costumes playing around a gazebo, couple dining in a restaurant, couple making love) and a life-size vintage French village stage set, authentic to the last detail, reminiscent of Jacques Tati decors, with live actors miming a failed romantic encounter:


While Vava checked out “snow” flats simulating a mountain scene, I wandered away to a dark room with pillows on the floor and a series of films by Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai, juxtaposing saturated images of ancient spiritual traditions and modern decadence: temples, hypnotic Naga snakes, trash TV, garbage dumps, drones filming people filming drones…

Then a group expo of ultra-realistic portraits, people and their genitalia… Then a slide show of theaters all over the globe…

By this time we were starving. Asked a guard about the Monsieur Bleu eatery mentioned on the museum website http://monsieurbleu.com. He pointed to a mirrored wall at the very back of the dark lower level. We walked over and saw only ourselves, reflected in the glass, so went back to ask him again where it was. He looked at us like we were nuts and said, “Can’t you see it?” “No.” So he grudgingly slid off his stool, walked over, and opened the hidden door for us, into another world, a 2 or 3-story space flooded with light, tall bouquets on a burnished brass bar, tables with design place settings, all overlooking the Seine. Everything screamed, “Very Expensive.”  Vava said, “That’s why we couldn’t see the door. You have to be in a higher income bracket.”

Our blinking amazement delighted the energetic Maitre D, who showed us to a table with a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower, backlit with bursts of winter sunlight.

Looked at menu and tried to choose wisely, so as to enjoy the rare moment with Vava, splurge a little without emptying my bank account. Impeccably groomed waitress frowned when I asked for a “carafe d’eau” so I ordered a glass of white Viognet la Violette J-L Colombo (I rarely drink at noon) Gambas Poivre et Sel and  Salade de Papaye Verte:


Vava ordered Pâtes Fraîches aux Truffes and a Salted Caramel Tart with Apple Sherbet…DSC02450



Need I say these were edible, very ephemeral works of art?




Didn’t want it to end, but we were determined to see more of the museum, so we finished with coffee and reentered the other world, back through the mirrored door, finding our way to a large white-walled space with enormous hanging Chinese lanterns and destroyed white latex furniture, by Mélanie Matranga…

Finally, the main exhibit, ground floor, was devoted to John Giorno, a beat poet, activist, creator of Dial-A-Poem, and Warhol model (“star” of his film Sleep), unknown to me. First a room with a montage of B&W films of him  performing his poem “Thanks for Nothing” at the Palais des Glaces, barefoot in a tuxedo, in honor of his 70th birthday, shot from different angles, close ups, long shots… Then a mind bogglingly gigantic room, completely wall-papered with 15,000 fluo photocopies of his archive, notebooks of family photos and memorabilia on tables…DSC02451

a room of large paintings and digital displays of his aphorisms (“Just say no to family values,” “God is man-made,””Life is a killer,” “Prefer crying in a limo to laughing on a bus”) then a resin replica of his NY loft fireplace, where he performs Tibetan Buddhist purification ceremonies for the New Year, and his tall personal altar, covered with gorgeous silk brocade from Benares India, surmounted with a brocade Thangka…DSC02453

…not to mention glass cases of sacred Tibetan artefacts on loan from the Musée Guimet up the street… Quite a contrast…

Felt I had taken a very long trip, because I had…”

V. said it was the best museum she’d ever been to…Design shop and cafeteria next time…