Lost In Limoges

From the sheep-dotted pastures of France's underpopulated Southwest, Limoges rises in all its grey glory. The city's claim to fame: fine porcelain. The half-timbered houses of the Medieval center are surrounded by strip malls and McDo. Land-hungry Brits descend with flailing pocketbooks (thanks, RyanAir). The weather is remarkably cool year-round. Sure, I live on rue de Nice, but this is NOT the Cote d'Azur. Welcome to Limoges, "the middle of nowhere"-- or as Pierre says "everywhere"-- France.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's on at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris

For a fun, wholly amusing diversion in Paris, head over to the Palais de Tokyo to check out Michel Blazy's thought-provoking new exhibit "Post Patman." Running until May 6, 2007, the show is described as "an exhibition born out of organic proliferation." You can't even imagine. Mix chocolate, dog biscuits, sugar, oranges, carrots, and all sorts of everyday organic matter and what do you get? Mildew, mushrooms, decrepit rot, the pungent stink of quick degeneration, with lots of buzzing flies...

A few weeks ago, we checked out the Palais de Tokyo on a rainy Saturday. I walked in the exhibit room and was baffled. I noticed little birds nibbling on what looked like a mountain of spun sugar. As they ate, their feet would get stuck in the sticky yellow substance. Were the birds part of the exhibit? How on earth did they get inside the room? To my left, a moss-covered fish tank. To my right, more birds pecked crumbs from a skeleton made of dog biscuits. And in front of me, an orange wall was sprouting mushrooms.

The metamorphoses are slow, but over the lifetime of the exhibit seem quite rapid. Everyday processes take on a different meaning in the context of the exhibit space. I found myself craning my neck for a closer examination. Those shriveled black things are actually carrots? And as I leaned in for a better look, I noticed the patterns within the slimy mess. Degeneration, like so many biological processes, may seem random, but there is really order within the chaos. The artist had painted the orange wall with a liquid mix of food and kitchen supplies in a pattern of triangles and diamonds-- as if to call our attention to this concept of order.

Look closely (examining the little army of mushrooms sticking out perpendicular from the wall) and the smallest pieces of matter seem to follow an orderly pattern. Which gets you thinking about the shapes of molecules and atoms and the tiniest particles of matter and... I digress. You get the picture. It's all about the rhyme and reason behind apparent chaos.

Our favorite part of the exhibit was the green recycling bins filled with shaving cream. Each morning, the museum staff would launch the experiment: mixing chemicals to ignite the foam to bubble and expand. Each green bin represented a different phase in the growth of the mass-- before it eventually toppled over and hit the floor. (You can see our friend Fred in the background, arms crossed in front of him, mesmerized by the show.)

P.S. The chairs are the Palais de Tokyo are pretty cool too. And comfortable. With the free WIFI, you could easily camp out here for an entire day.


  • At 7:22 PM, Anonymous John said…

    this is just unbelievable !
    Paris is fantstic and crazy !



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