Thursday, October 25, 2018

on the decline of storytelling


As I went out one evening – not really just one evening, but a dateable dusk, with my son, Adam, here in Paris, October 14 – I came across a number of photographs pinned to a brick wall on Rue des blancs manteaux. It was a warm Sunday. Rue des blanc manteaux always has a crowd going down it on Sundays, when the automobiles are banned,  and this always brings out a number of buskers and beggars as well, looking for pocket change or at least an audience. Adam was interested in this scene. We passed a harpist entangled in his reverb and speculated about the difficulty of moving his huge instrument – which towered over his sitting figure - around the city. We passed a painter, or at least someone who painted vaguely impressionistic street scenes, the kind of thing spawned by such memories of impressionism as those sustained in the heads of tourists, who might think that this school of art is still of current interest. And perhaps, I thought, their interest in the work might be their real and genuine encounter with art, so who am I to turn up my nose? Nevertheless, when Adam tugged at me and made me turn back to the photographer’s piece of sidewalk property, I did not feel that democratic charity was called for: I looked at it and saw it was bad, very bad.

On the wall there was a sign (dancers from 1980-1990) and a series of colored photographs depicting ballerina like dancers. Most of them, on second glance, were the same dancer. And again, here she was in profile, and in repose.  There was a vaguely David Hamilton air about it all, although the dancer was not a gauzy nymphet. Down on the sidewalk itself there were spread similar photographs, plus a scarf and a plate with some remains of a meal and a bottle that held some clear liquid that could be eau or could be eau de vie. The photograph that attracted my six year old son’s attention was of a woman’s face in profile, the whole stained red, with brownish cracks in a web across the image. Adam is a boy who is always alert for horror imagery, and he took it for granted that the red stain meant blood. We were discussing whether this was so when the vender and begetter of the photos came up to us. See the rest here. 

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