Theme: Art Nouveau

If I could  turn back the hands of time, to that point when I was choosing the course to take at University, how I wish I’ve chosen Architecture.  Well, how would have I known then that I would have the slightest interest on the subject?

But after living in France for a decade and  having seen the staggering beauty of historic buildings and monuments in Europe,  I realize now that architecture is half  the reason why I’ve always been passionate about living here.

One of the architectural styles that always blow me away is Art Nouveau.

 

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Metro entrance of Cité as designed by Hector Guimard, Paris

 

Syndicat de l’Epicerie Française.  It was built to host the French Union of Grocery shops in the early 19ààs but now being used as a theater (Théatre du Renard).

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The Art Nouveau building of Jules Lavirotte at 29 Avenue Rapp, built in 1901. This work won him the Concours de Façades de la Ville de Paris in 1903.   I added the green rubbish bin into the frame to add colour

Square Louis XVI

I was walking one day when I noticed an impressive structure with 3 domes and 2 lseries of arches.  There was not a single soul inside the grounds save for two municipal cleaners.  The serene garden and the structure would make good photographic subjects  so I went in. 

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Louis XVI’s Expiatory Chapel

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Like any other parks in Paris that are under the free WiFi zone, you can surf here with your laptop for as long as its battery allows it! Last time I did it in another park but didn’t stay long because my hands almost froze up. It was already winter that time.

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This park is surrounded by huge buildings, along Blvd Haussman , perfect for tourists who are looking for quiet picnic areas or for residents in search of green spots.

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Back of the chapel

Square Louis XVI used to be a cemetery where the mortal remains of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were buried after they were guillotined.  The Monarch was beheaded few months before his wife. Fifteen years later, the remains were transferred to the Royal Sepulcher inside the Basilica of Saint Denis and the King at the time, Louis XVIII, had a chapel built to venerate the spot.

The chapel was built between 1816 and 1826 by Fontaine.

The toilet passage of Paris

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N’Urinez pas dans notre passage.  Don’t pee on our alley.

N’Urinez pas dans nos fenetres.  Don’t pee on our windows.

N’Urinez pas dans nos portes.  Don’t pee on our doors.

N’Urinez pas dans nos murs.  Don’t pee on our walls.

N’Urinez pas devant nous.  Don’t pee infront of us.

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At first glance, you would think these lines come from a poem.  But read again.  The fury and  the  chagrin of the writer is reverberating.  It does in fact come from a group of inhabitants – the inhabitants of Passage de la Trinite.

Passage de la Trinite in the 2nd Arrondissement (Metro: Reaumur-Sebastopol) is a narrow lane of maybe less than 50 meters in length,  avoided by Parisians like the plague because of its notoriety for being the back toilet for curious onlookers or prospective clients to the prostitutes standing infront of the sex houses along rue Saint Denis where it opens up.

I was not aware of the nature of this passage and the first time I saw it, it looked so deserted and suspicious, but something attracted me into it….  The colourfully handwritten notices glued everywhere, at every few meter distance,  reminded me of the election posters riddling all possible blank walls of my country every election season.

 

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In every door, in every window, in fact, for every few meter distance of the entire length of the passage, these notices are glued to the wall.

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(“Free public toilets, and (is) compulsory”)

They even advise for an alternative toilet as shown on the map they themselves have drawn.

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Rue Montorgueil

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The entrance to rue Montorgeuil from rue Reaumeur. 

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Just one of the three pharmacies in rue Montorgeuil

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The 19th century restaurant, Au Rocher du Cancale with its  neo-Renaissance architecture.

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Before the revolution, a young woman who lived on this passage sent a petition to Queen Marie-Antoinette.  That  woman, Julie Becheur,  held a strong facial resemblance to the Queen Marie-Thérèse of Hungary so she was mockingly nicknamed “The Queen of Hungary”.  But this little “reine de Hongrie” went too far in siding with the Royal household that it cost her her head,…. to the guillotine.

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A historic monument, this  snail restaurant started feeding the French with its shelled delicary since 1832.

Entropa by David Cerny

To mark the beginning of the Czech Republic’s six-month presidency of the European Union,  a huge art work called Entropa, was installed at the European Council premises in Brussels on 15 January 2009.

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It featured the 27 members of the European Union – their exaggerated stereotypes – held together by snap-out plastic parts like those used in modelling kits.  The exhibition provoked outcries particulary from Bulgaria which was depicted as a series of Turkish toilets.  The booklet of the EU2009 of the Czech Republic shows the 27 artists representing each of the 27 members who supposedly created their country’s provocative symbols only to be discovered later that it was all done by one man, David Cerny, who became an overnight sensation although his own website leaves much to be desired as shown by his generous use of filthy language.

Austria:  a known opponent of atomic energy, is a green field dominated by nuclear power plant.

What do you want?  a meadow or a power station?  … Sabrina Unterberger, the artistSab

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Belgium is presented as a half-full box of half-eaten  chocolates.

Begium as a country of chocolates as presented by Roger Geboers, a food artist

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Bulgaria depicted by a series of connected “Turkish” squash toilets.

For me, our project is an opportunity to cope with false patriotism and find relief from the destitution of Bulgarian material and spiritual life.  Not least, it is sure to upset a lot of people, and that is also what I am aiming for – to cause a scandal, especially at home.  It’s a punk gesture, intentionally primitive and vulgar, faecally pubertal…(Elena Jelebova, the artist)

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Cyprus is jigsawed (cut) in half

..I am confident that we will succeed – at least symbolically – in uniting the divided Cyprus..Panayiotis Papastamouli

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Czech Republic,  an LED display which flashes controversial quotations by Czech President Vaclav Klaus upon the sculpture’s activation

Let the head of state have his say!  A constant stream of constant Vaclav Klaus quotes.  Words of wisdom that deserve to be etched in stone.  The President’s sublime, pertinent comments about the whole world, and especially the EU, whizzing across a three-line alphanumeric LED display.  He is OUR president, we elected him, so let’s show him off to the world with joy in our hearts.  He’s not just a skier, he’s a great guy!…..David Cerny

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Denmark, a face depicted in lego bricks , reminiscent of the cartoon controversy.

We have telescopes and microscopes; we observe the world from different angles and at various resolutions.  A photograph has grains, a digital image has pixels.  The more pixels there are, the sharper the picture.  Playing with lego is an abstract exercise in the structure of elements, but is geared towards specific objects, meanings and skills.  We too should grasp the whole picture of the world, let’s not get caught up in individual pixels, but see what they form…..DeviantArt

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Estonia,  presented with a hammer and sickle-styled power tools, the country has considered a ban on  Communist  symbols.

Artist:  Sirje Sukmit

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Finland,  a wooden floor and an [apparently drunk] male with a rifle, imagining various animals

For centuries now, we have been part of the global human community.  With our mobile telephones, we are helping to interconnect this community.  Finland is not a country of wood; no exotic animals live in Finland. Perhaps that’s the way things are.  Perhaps it would be beautiful…..Jooner Tuominen

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France is draped in a “GRÈVE!” banner

As a result of global and local political, economic and cultural situatiion, the GRAA Group has gone on strike indefinitely.

“GRÈVE!” (“STRIKE!”)

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Germany is a series of interlocking autobahns, described as “somewhat resembling a swastika though that is not universally accepted. Upon activation, the cars are supposed to start moving.

The mobile relief is a moving metaphor for Germany as the country of the automotive industry and motorways.  The sagging of transmission is necessarily cyclical.  It reveals the banality of several visions yet it draws attention to the absurdity of European transport policy, which shies away from seeking effective alternatives to petrol- driven engines and ever expanding motorways….Helmut Bauer

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Greece is  depicted as a forest that is entirely burned

Almost a year ago, the fire destroyed my home and studio.  At a time when Europe’s living standards have risen in an unprecedented manner and our lives have become increasingly influenced by technology, fire is stilll able to take everything away.  If it weren’t – at least in my case – so tragic, it may have been possible to seek, in the widespread fires in Greece, as well as in Spain and California, the archetypal warning of nature:  I am here and I am more powerful than you.  Despite all its possible negative consequences, however, the  structure of fire, its colour, smell and strength are fascinating…..Angelo Navridis

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Hungary features an Atomium made of its common agricultural products: melons and Hungarian sausages, based on a floor of peppers

National stereotypes?  For Brussels it is the Atomium, for Hungary the spicy Csabai sausage and ripe melons.  Stereotypes in contemporary art? A busty Hungarian artist who smokes and uses filthy language….Agnes Cerese

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Ireland is depicted as a brown bog with bagpipes protruding from Northern Ireland; upon activation, the bagpipes are expected to play music every five minutes

In today’s unifying Europe, there is something like a need for inner ethnic exoticism and the marketing of a distant, idealized Ireland……..John O’Connell

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Italy as a football pitch with the players holding balls in the “strategic position”.

 It is a Freudian-kitschy private vision of contemporary Italy, floundering between meaningless traditions and pointless entertainment; it appears to be an auto-erotic system of sensational spectacle with no climax on sight….Francesco Zampedroni

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Latvia is shown as covered with mountains, in contrast to its actual flat landscape.

Andrejs Spuris, artist

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Lithuania, its soldiers are depicted urinating on Russia.

I concentrated on the fate of totalitarian monuments and their conversion into new-generation monuments.  The symbol of Brussels is the Manneken Pis.  I have adapted this symbol to the situation in my own country.  The project can be viewed as an alternative monument to Lithuanian independence and as an outlet for the wrongs of the past….Vilma Stasiulyte

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Luxembourg is displayed as a fake gold nugget with “For Sale” tag.

It is not the price of paper that creates the value of a banknote, but vice versa. Similarly, a statue could be made of gold and costs less than a pile of rancid fat on a chair,  provided, that is, that the artist behind the fat is Joseph Beuys
This forms the basis for my own design. Luxembourg will appear as though it is made of gold. Yet who will notice that it is not precious metal, but just the work of artists and their special effects? We readily place our faith in the stock exchange and banks, but often harbour suspicions about art. We remain suspicious right up to the moment that art is transformed into financial worth. And if anyone chooses to view the whole thing as a comment on Luxembourg’s status within Europe, they may well be right……Marc Hubert

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Malta is a tiny island with its prehistoric dwarf elephant as its only decoration.

Malta is a small, perhaps negligible, lump of rock.  For some people, its size may be a cause of mirth.  What, then, would they make of our most famous animal, which nobody has actually ever seen: the dwarf elephant, a creature almost too small to miss….Alexander Caruana

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The Netherlands has disappeared under the sea with only a several minarets still visible; upon activation, this piece is supposed to emit the singing of muezzins.

If only The Netherlands were in Hell!  At least it’s warm and generally dry there.  I would like to survive; I’d like at least something from this country to survive.  Salt water will noiselessly inundate fields, towns and villages.  Fish will swim through our squares and seaweed will cling to our towers.  Perhaps a few lucky individuals will be rescued in small boats…..Dick Jansen

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Poland has a piece with priests erecting the rainbow flag of the Gay rights movement, in the style of the U.S. soldiers raising the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima.

Stand by your faith
Journalistic photographs capturing American soldiers raising a flag on the island of Iwo Jima in 1945. Instead of soldiers, the figures of Catholic priests faithfully copy the positions of the men in the photograph. A rainbow flag where all the colours of the spectrum coexist side by side. A surreal vision of the interconnection of that which cannot be interconnected…..Leszek Hirszenberg

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Portugal is shown as a wooden cutting board with three pieces of meat in the shape of its former colonies of Brazil, Angola, and Mozambique.

I don’t like fat and I don’t like colonialism. Empire-building, the influence of colonisation on post-colonial history, economy, science and culture, the cultural output of colonised societies, feminism and post-colonialism, the state of post-colonialism
in a contemporary economic and cultural context – all these are some of the general themes in this field. What were the experiences of the colonised and the colonisers?
…… Carla de Miranda

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Romania  is a Dracula-style theme park.

Welcome to Dracula Land. We are an endless periphery, a place from where artists make their way to European exhibitions by coach. We are a country that is too poor to support its own culture, but too rich to receive the aid channelled by developed countries into developing countries. We are a people adept at working with zero budgeting, we are masters of sales, false advertising and improvisation. Only in recent years have we realized that marketing this status is our only salvation,
a quality that makes us at least a little interesting for others…..Matei Tiron

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Slovakia is depicted as a Hungarian sausage (or a human body tighten by Hungarian tricolour).

Boris Špernoga, artist
 

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 Slovenia is shown as a rock engraved with the words first tourists came here 1213.

I have chosen a text by the official Slovenian national tourism agency as a departure point for examination of our national identity. According to this text, the first tourists appeared in Slovenia back in 1213 and left a message documenting their visit in one of the caves in the Postojna complex. The discovery that we ourselves are unquestionably the descendants of these tourists is telling; we view ourselves from the position of foreign visitors. This is a strategy associated with the delight of masturbation: we view the hand we use in autoerotic stimulation as the hand of another. We view our own national identity with similar detachment, as though we were tourists in our own land…..Erwin Mrkosek

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Spain is covered entirely in concrete, with a concrete mixer situated near the Basque country.

I propose that the surface should take the form of a vertical inhabited landscape made of concrete….Ricardo Romeo

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Sweden does not have an outline, but is represented as large Ikea-style self-assembly furniture, containing Gripen fighter planes.

Most Europeans see Sweden as a country of civic peace with a successful economy. Sweden is environment-friendly, politically correct and open to foreign nationals and sexual revolution.  Its friendly face, variability, practicality and appealing design are best characterised by the success of the Swedish furniture retailer IKEA. IKEA customers across the world are led to believe, naively, that the world is composed of simple elements that we can understand, interlink, and repair if necessary.
Populist politicians throughout the world exploit similar social engineering.

Let us grab the right key and the world will be better!’ we believe in conformity with advertising slogans. I respond critically to this European hypocrisy with an IKEA flat pack in the shape of the Swedish kingdom, which conceals an inconvenient truth…..Sonja Aaberg

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 The United Kingdom, known for its Euroscepticism and relative isolation from the Continent, is “included” as missing piece (an empty space) at the top-left of the work.

If art and associated attitudes are not to become pleasing-appearance ready-made goods, but a living, albeit perhaps fleeting, organism, art should be able to improve exactness of its message in the time allotted to it and thus, paradoxically, define itself in history.

This improvement of exactness means that its individual, selectivesieve can cover the so-called objective sieve. Where their nodes do not coincide, ‘free space‘ opens. Energy of the free space is proportional to the power of sharing, or, more precisely, it is the sum of the freely pulsating words which, in this context and in each specific time, is able to define (tangle up) different meanings naturally through spontaneous intuition. These screen points are spatial holograms of historical memory, experience, and therefore each such new overlap becomes another non-linear tangle to the naked eye…..Khalid Asadi

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