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A 3rd French Letter

 Fula Paxinos, our intrepid traveller and writer (as well as great artist) kept us entertained a few months back with her exploits in Paris.   Due to some computer glitch, the letters stopped after 2, but luckily she has decided to keep us ‘in the loop’ – here is the 3rd French Letter.
2 Months and a lot of  aggravation later, yet another French letter.
But first—I must clear up a few misconceptions in letter 2  Firstly the ‘their’s’ should have been ‘there’ Blame the damned foreign computers.  Secondly I wrote ‘just about everyone speaks French, a leetle’. Not everyone understood that I meant that most of the residents in the international cite can speak une peau francaise and many Parisians can speak  ‘a leetle English’  (Happy Linda?)

Location, location, location!    The long blue roof in the centre foreground, facing the river Seine, between Pont Marie and Pont Louis Philipe, is the main building of the Cité.  My studio was on the 1st floor facing the river Seine.  Not shabby, hey?  Top centre is Notre Dame Cathedral.  
“The Cité Internationale des Arts is intended to provide short or long stays (2 months to 1 year) for professional artists who want to develop an artistic work in France.The Cité Internationale des Arts is a foundation directed to the public benefit since 1957. The Cité Internationale des Arts is intended to Provide short or long stays (2 months to 1 year) for professional artists who want to Develop an artistic work in France. The Cité Internationale des Arts is a foundation directed to benefit the public since 1957.

It is related to a vast network of partners and associates. It is related to a vast network of partners and associates. Its founders include a large number of States, schools, institutes, universities and ministries from close to 50 countries all across the world. Its founders include a large number of States, schools, institutes, universities and ministries from close to 50 countries all across the world. Three of its historic founders and key partners are the City of Paris, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Three of its historic founders and key partners are the City of Paris, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The facilities of the Cité are divided between two locations in Paris : The facilities of the City are divided between two locations in Paris:

– The site located at 18 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville includes 270 individual workshops in the heart of the Marais district, a dynamic quarter swarming with art galleries and a favourite destination for Parisians. – The site located at 18 rue de l’Hotel de Ville includes 270 individual workshops in the heart of the Marais district, a dynamic quarter swarming with art galleries and a favorite destination for Parisians.


– The site located at 24 rue Norvins is composed of several buildings in a large garden in Montmartre and has 30 individual workshops. – The site located at 24 rue Norvins is composed of several buildings in a large garden in Montmartre and has 30 individual workshops. Montmartre was for many years a focal point for artists over the world. Montmartre was for many years a focal point for artists the world over. “

Life in the Cité des Internationale des Arts.

 The residents come from all over the planet and express their talents in a great variety of disciplines. Many musicians, who seem to stay here the longest, as long as 2 years; conductors, composers, visual artists, photographers, video installation artists, sculptors, writers, art historians, singers and songwriters, some husbands/wives/babies/lovers and some here just for  inspiration.

Apart from the concerts in the auditorium, the visual artists can host an ‘Open Studio’ when they have produced some work to show.  They put invitations in all the residents’ pigeon holes, put a poster on the notice board stating their Studio no. date and time, buy some snacks and wine, and welcome all comers.  An excellent way to meet people and to see what they do- some fantastic art, some not.

A young Japanese artist Katsutoshi Yuasa produced woodcuts and prints 1.5 m’s wide x 1m at his Open Studio.  Unbelievably intricate and beautiful weeping willows and water scenes.  One of the guests muttered to me that Katsutoshi had copied Monet’s Japanese bridge.  Ja well nou fine!

A Canadian/Australian woman was tracing ancestors through DNA. and wanted all the visitors to her Open studio to fill in details on a hand drawn map of the world  where their families originated.  Despite a very long, intense explanation, I still could not understand the connection with the paper mache stuff that was part of her exhibition.
Maybe the high octane drinks her husband was dispensing had something to do with it. C’est possible  

A tiny doll-like Chinese artist showed a very poignant video installation about the earthquake in Sichuan Province. At the end of her six month stay her huge blonde Norwegian husband came to spend a few days with her  and take her back home to Norway.

My charming young Moroccan neighbour, Rahimah had a jolly Open Studio and showed large paintings of black daisies and brown tulips painted with a  4” brush.  She then went back to Tangier for a few days to visit her cat and her parents.   When she came back she showed me a picture of her hamster which she sadly announced was morte.  I made appropriate sympathetic gestures. When she showed me a picture of her cat,  she tickled the picture and made squeaky baby noises at it.  Great!  She was crazy! She was one of us!   Rahimah couldn’t speak a word of English  so I racked my brains and asked her “avez vous voir le magazin pour achete les animaux petit?”

I hoped I’d asked her if she had seen the pet shops, she understood, shook her head and smiled so I took her to the row of pet and garden shops further along the Seine.  Needless to say she was enchanted and gurgled and cooed and made squeaky noises at all the adorable baby animals.  Puppies- +-3000 Euros! (R36,000!!!!)  and kittens  +-1800 euros! (R21,600!!!!)  I  had to drag her out of there, fortunately sans any petit animaux!.


5 Artists from bits of the former Yugoslavia got together and had an Open Studio exhibition called L’Art Nous Unis  (Art unites us)  Some beautiful and eclectic and also some very weird things like bits of dismembered dolls nailed to the wall.   We became good friends and went out together.  Most of them were leaving at the end of Oct. and I gave them a little farewell party in my studio.  The common language was English,  but not too much of it.


My friends, their nationalities  and the languages they spoke  were:-

MetkaFemale – Slovenian – plus  Italian, Serbian, Croat,  English

SasaMale – Montenegran – plus   English, Serbian, Italian, un peau francais

MirsadMale –       “             plus   English Serbian, Italian, Greek
 MircaFemale – Czechoslovakian – plus English,Serbian, German, Russian, Polish 
Joe  Male – American – plus French, German 
AhmadMale – Palestinian – plus Arabic

Moi   –  Female – S African – plus Afrikaans, Greek, a leetle Turkish, un peau francais

Vedrana was pregnant, did not feel well so left earlier and returned to Serbia with her husband.
(I had to add in the Turkish bit so as not to appear dof in front of all those multilingual people!)
Shortly after I arrived in Paris, my school-friend Joan and another friend came over on the Eurostar from London to spend the day with me.  It was great having their company and site-seeing together.  But when they left I felt lonelier than ever.  I’m so glad that I hung in there and had the opportunity and the privilege to get to know such talented artists from such diverse countries and cultures; to listen to their stories and hear about their lives.


Next episode-  Mindblowing Paris
Amiètes

Fula

1 thought on “A 3rd French Letter

  1. Love the letters Fula. Please keep them coming. Dont worry about the funny things the computer is doing, just keep on writing.

    Sounds like you are having fun. What? No braai or biltong! Lets hope you are having truffels and champers instead.
    Whishing you and lots of fun.
    Tereza from Velddrif

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