August 15, 2007


Cinema. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud is the depiction of an individual destiny (that of Satrapi), from her childhood in Iran before the Revolution, to life under the Islamic regime, her first attempt at expatriation in Austria and finally her exile in France. The graphics of this animated movie and the score convey the story very efficiently and I was definitely moved.
Cartouches Gauloises by Mehdi Charef takes place in the months leading to the independence of Algeria. I am no judge as to how faithful to the events the movie is. The overall picture tries hard to be balanced, between the atrocities committed by the French army and how they abandoned the "Harkis" (the Algerians who had fought for them), the terrorist attacks of the fellaghas and how they took revenge on all those who had collaborated with the French - in the background the good will of many ordinary French and Algerians who lived together peacefully. But the mixture of violence and a cute nostalgic story leads to strange situations. A 10-year-old French girl escaped when the fellaghas stormed her family's house. When she returns and finds her parents dead, she packs a suitcase, looks unsuccessfully for her cat and goes: this is a little bit too much of a shortcut for me.

Exhibitions. At the "Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris", I recommend the exhibition on Aleksandr Rodchenko. This Soviet photographer who spent only three months of his life outside of Russia had a very interesting evolution. The exhibition is chronological and shows how he started with painting and quickly took on photography, collages and graphic design. During the 20s he made fascinating portraits, contributed to avant-garde art magazines and invented his style of building and city photography. But I could almost feel the political pressure grow on him and the 30s and 40s gradually castrated the artist he was. Only in his last years did a shadow of himself reappear, a fascination from his childhood for circus and theater lead him back to some shy experiments back in the aesthetic realm.

Weegee at the "Musée Maillol" is very interesting too. A specialist of dead bodies in New York City, Weegee also directed his camera to the architecture of the Big Apple, the sleeping children and homeless people, the rich and the poor, the whites and the blacks, the bagel delivery man before dawn and the crowd of beach goers at midday. Eventually, we get a fascinating image of the city, and a visual style which is now history.

Tourism. The village of Vézelay and the Abbaye de Fontenay are both highly recommended. Unexpected as it may be, a friend I was travelling encouraged me to take pictures so I'll try to post them soon!

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