Once again I find myself alone in a train compartment now heading back east to Munich from Paris.
The past week has been a special mixture of work and play in France. It was nice to back in a country where atleast I understand the Language a little bit. Arriving in Strasbourg after the long journey across Germany felt almost like being back home again.
My first stop was to stay with Olivier for Sunday in Paris. We spent the afternoon in the Louvre studying the relics from Summaria, and the Code of Hammurabi. Like the Pergamon Museum I was once again enthralled and taken back by the life-like installation of a set of wall reliefs that adorned an ancient home of one of the Summarian Kings. The palace was left to ruin when his son became king and moved to another city. Upon entering the temple-like room you were overcome by a set of larger than life size figures with bodies that had the legs and hooves of camels but the heads of curly bearded men guarding the gates of their master.
I could not take the atmosphere of the Museum for long though and was overtaken by an extreme headache that bordered on being a migraine. Olivier and I took the rest of the night easy waiting out the rain of a Pairs evening in late November. Bill had lent me a book called the The Da Vinci Code, which confirmed that perhaps the air filtration systems used to clean out the carbon dioxide left by thousands of visitors as a means of protecting the life of the paintings and art might be partially the cause why going to Museums gets to be so tiring. Besides being on your feet all day while concentrating on looking and learning about culture and history.
The next day on Monday I headed up to Arras where it was good to see my adopted French brother Luc in his atelier Le Que de la batterie. It was heartwarming to be welcomed once again to his space to work and be supported by the community of Arras. We met on Tuesday with the Director of Tourism and two members from the City’s beautification and historic preservation departments to discuss the production and installation of the cellar doors I designed last year for the City. The doors depict the history of 5 houses located on the central Plazas that date back to the 13th Century. It is a project that they hope to continue with other visiting artists as a means towards educating the touring community about Arras’ rich cultural, social and architectural history. A project that evolved partly from the foundation of my manhole cover project Re-Covering the Cityscape.
So it looks like I will not only be back in Europe in the spring to install my show in Munich, but also be flown to Arras for the dedication of the installation of the cellar doors! Which are called Burguet.
On Tuesday evening Bill came down from a three-day trip to Amsterdam to meet me in Arras for a little vacation time in Paris. Bill’s first venture in Arras was to buy two box loads of Truffles that he had bought the last time as holiday gifts. This time how ever he finally got to eat one, which marked just the beginning of his gastronomic adventure in French cuisine.
We left for Paris the next morning where Olivier graciously offered us his little garret room 7 flights up with no elevator, shower and a bathroom shared in the hallway. A little like the apartment we shared on Sullivan Street. Olivier’s cousin Laurence let us take showers at her place down the street. All we needed was a place to sleep really. Our days were filled with touring and eating. Ah the life of a tourist can be so tiring!
We started our first day with a walking tour of Montmartre. Scaling the steep stairs by way of the slanted sides. Climbing stairs seemed to be the overall theme of this trip, so working to avoid destroying our knees we creatively sought out ways to avoid making all those steps up to the Sacre Coure. Unfortunately Paris was its overcast gray self as usual so the view was not an easy one to make out. But we took advantage of the night-lights to enjoy a romantic kiss over the heights of this methodologically romantic city.
A second theme that seemed to pervade our visit was reading about certain sights that when we visited them, found them to be closed. Such as the first restaurant we tried to eat at. But we managed to find another in the area and we enjoyed a sensuous meal at a place called Le Restaurant. Bill had a lamb Tadjine to die for. For the fist time we actually finished off a bottle of wine together, which sent us home exhausted afterward instead of the jazz club Bill so much wanted to check out. I promised him the next night.
Our second “closed” encounter was the Jazz club Bill wanted to go to, we did find another thankfully on Thursday night after a day at the Musee d’Orsay, where Bill got lost in the color of the Impressionists and I brushed up on my 19th century art history. Dinner that night was not as fantastic, but we had a ball with the huge Cheese plate, of which Bill partook with plenty of Lactaid Pills.
The next morning we actually saw the red globe of the sun rise over the city from Olivier’s window, only to disappear shortly after in the ever-present haze.
We took a walk through the Tulleries, and had a lunch with Celine, who is responsible for first bringing me in contact with Luc and producing my work in France. After lunch we visited the Rodin Museum, then later to a new place for me the Tokyo Palace where we met my old friend Fabien for a drink. What a bizarre place, like Celine said it was like another form of PS 1 in New York. A center for contemporary art, food, drink and happenings. There was a film event happening that evening, but we took off for a real hip and trendy place called 404 for a Tadjine dinner. Not as good as we had hoped. Too spoiled by Luc’s Tadjine and the one we had the night before. But it was a curious experience to be out among the young and beautiful of Paris for a late night meal. They still had people coming through the doors for seatings at midnight! We unfortunately had to wake up early for Bill’s plane back to NY and my train back to Munich.
One thing I have realized during this trip is that despite how much friends have commented on how I will most likely live in Europe some day, I really wonder if this will be true due to the ever present use of cigarettes by the rest of the world. Despite not supporting Bloomberg’s complete ban on smoking in NY, I have certainly been spoiled by the clear air in public places, and have been quite disgusted by the ever present burning taste the smoke from others in restaurants, café’s and the streets leaves in my mouth and on my clothes.
Well I hope you have enjoyed this new admission to the travelogues. I have 9 more days in Europe, where I plan to work on the show in Munich and rent a car for a ride through the countryside of Bavaria. The show here is still a work in progress, so more on this later.
All my love,