Sunday 4 October 2009

Nuit Blanche

Last night here in Paris and continuing until 7am was the hugely popular “Nuit Blanche” all throughout different parts of the city. Literally, ‘nuit blanche’ translates to ‘white night,’ but this is the term used to say “all-nighter”, so the Nuit Blanche is an all night event displaying all forms of art, video, lighting and whatever else can be created in someone’s imagination. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, my roommate and I decided not to stay out the whole night because of a fashion show we were going to this morning, so at 2 am (early for Parisian standards), we called it a night. But, in our time of nuit blanche-ing, we found ourselves amidst every single person in Paris, all walking through the same neighborhood – it was a very busy, lively night with music and art everywhere – quite an amazing experience, and I wish I could have stayed out longer! Apparently, for those who lasted all night (or for those who got up early enough), the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) gave out breakfast for free at 7 am.

During our walk around the city, we came across mostly video installations displayed in public places, since we had trouble finding the more hidden art exhibits. There was a very interesting video of someone throwing clay (making pots) projected onto the front of the Monop’; however, this outside window was covered in a strange white glue-like substance in which people could draw or write with their hands (and then find a way to clean them off afterwards). You can see some photos of this below – it was really cool!

There were more videos in the Beaubourg area, as well as one large video projected onto the front of the Hotel de Ville, where we also came across a large crowd surrounding some really amazing break dancers. The temptation to join them was stirring inside me, but then I remembered – I can’t break dance! But oh how I wish I could… (I have always wanted to secretly know how to break dance, then show up at a party and pull out some sweet moves and blow everyone’s mind. Hah.)

Also during the night, many businesses (stores, tabac’s, restaurants, etc) remain open for business into the wee hours of the morning and we were lucky enough to come across the most heavenly gelato I have ever encountered in my life – I ordered ‘mangue et citron’ (mango and lemon), and it was absolutely glorious. I had to include a photo of it in here too.

Basically, last night was an amazing display of Parisian life: people out until 7 am, stores open all night, people celebrating through the streets, and of course, art, art, ART! The more time I spend in Paris, the more I begin to learn about the influence of art in the culture and life of the Parisians and how this affects and influences the rest of the world. Food is an art in France, wine is an art, fashion, design, architecture, fine art, photography – they are all held with such high regard here and people seem to live with it as part of their daily life. French women and men dress well, all the time, without fail – perhaps it is because of the history of fashion in the world: for the most part, fashion originated right here, where I stand today. The importance of creating beautiful and practical things is so much more present than I have noticed in other cities. As said by William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” even the simplest, most practical of things – the entrance to the metro station, was a careful and thought out design by architect Hector Guimard. The city of Paris could have just created unattractive signs to show where the metro was, but no – design and practicality can be good friends. So, it seems like here in Paris, people live by that sort of high design and aesthetic standard – things can be practical, and beautiful, and they should be. Art is important. Beauty is important. Practicality is important. And they all mesh together seamlessly to create a vibrant, elegant, and artistically inclined group of people. Seeing that last night was such a treat, and it makes me never want to leave this beautiful city!

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