*This is the last of four writings exploring how art builds community locally and internationally. Interdisciplinary collaborations create new connections. While current political leaders debate the validity of facts, artists unite, and support truth.
Revisiting Paris today was bittersweet. My last visit was many years ago with my grandmother Juanita. As a graduate student at the Academy of Art College, I was impressionable and full of wonder. The trip would honor her legacy: explore without hesitation, patiently wait for the best view, and sleep can wait. Everyday celebrates the spirit of a woman that defined strength and grace.
One of the word’s most unique and captivating museums is the Centre Pompidou. Its deconstructivist design showcases the practical insides on the outside spectacularly. Visitor tour guide: “Designed by the architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Centre Pompidou building is an iconic 20th century monument, striking for its glass and steel architecture, suspended mechanical stairway and coloured pipes (blue for air, green for water, red for passageways and yellow for electricity).”
An organized maze of tubes, hallways, and spaces house an impeccable collection. Highlights included Bruno Peinado’s The Big One World created in response to Michelin layoffs in 2000. In conceptual solidarity, Kiki Smith’s Lying with the Wolf renders folklore with a feminist narration.
The unknown becomes organized in Allan Kaprow’s Rearrangeable Panels. The Art Story website: “Each time Rearrangeable Panels was exhibited, the curator or artist would be forced to make choices about how to configure the panels, foreshadowing Kaprow’s use of audience participation. Kaprow challenges the notion of artistic authorship through this collaborative element of construction and in its unique response to each site in which it is placed.”
Galleries in Paris shine with conceptual depth and rigor. The Topographie de l’Art gallery is an incredible interdisciplinary exhibition space. David Shrigley’s framed drawings are masterful insights into the absurdity of life. In contrast, Gallerie Bernard Bouche featured Belgian artist Marthe Wéry’s monochrome artworks oozing a meticulous sadness and elegance. Similarly, Korean artist Yoo Hye-Sook at Galerie Maria Lund offers insight behind space. While Gallerie Thaddaeus Ropac showcased the confident Jungles in Paris artworks of Adrian Ghenie.
Franck Scurti’s creations at Michel Rein gallery reimagines the history of landscapes. From the handout: “What would be the common denominator between a Van Gogh painting and the photoshopped image of a sunset published on Instagram? Frank Scurti’s exhibition gives us some answers. As announced by its title, the exhibition ‘The Potatoes Eaters/Sunset Stories’ is built around a double dialectic.”
A magical experience occurred by happenstance. The Brownstone Foundation featured the Cuban conceptual artist Wilfredo Prieto in the Dans la rue Saint-Gilles (In Saint-Gilles Street) exhibit. Prieto’s practice utilizes diverse mediums with a satirical punch. Artworks purposefully alter perceptions by chronicling moments. The Brownstone Foundation’s humanitarian mission provided insight: “The Foundation supports artistic initiatives in difficult neighborhoods or sensitive areas. In this way, art and culture are used to play a part in developing individuals characters and their respect for those of others, as well as favoring the evolution and perpetuation of social activity, providing a new way of thinking about and looking at life from individual and collective viewpoints.”
My grandmother’s persistence encouraged intellectual curiosity. She had the innate sensibility through sharing and eventual acceptance. Oscar Wilde: “When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” Yes, indeed.