Spray the word

Paint, play, write... express yourself!

Recently I wrote about politicians behaving like stage artists... But the opposite is also quite true: art has indeed always been a magnificent vehicle of political engagement. Think of Dali with his painting about the Spanish civil war ; think of Emile Zola with his "J'accuse" article during the Dreyfus case ; think of Moliere, Voltaire and co. Artists use their skills to express intimate thoughts and feelings, and you are to admit that politics can easily tap in both categories, so no wonder that their art express their political consciousness...

The street is ours

In this article I wanted to focus on two contemporary street artists who share more than a graphic technique: Miss Tic in Paris and Banksy in London. Both can be qualified as engaged graffiti artists since both express their convictions through stencils on the walls of their own capitals (and beyond). Their artworks use a subtle blend of graphic design and wit to visualise some profound ideas: anti-capitalist, feminism, anti-war, anti-establishment or pro-freedom....

A feminist stencil by Miss Tic: "Of a mother, I only have the tongue" . For more of her art click here

An anti-capitalist stencil by Banksy. For more of his art click here and here

I find extremely interesting to see that on both sides of the Channel, two artists are having a similar subversive approach. In a world of consensus and political correctness, I like the fact that some people out there provoke reactions by pointing out the flaws of the system in a nice, witty, visual... way.

And it changes the way you approach a city. Since I came across the first Banksy stencils, I have been walking around London looking for the next one. They are always brilliantly located, taking full advantage of the surroundings. Alternatively, if you are not keen on walking around with your eyes staring at brick walls, you can always opt for a retrospective book...
I can only recommend this volume which is not only inspiring and thought-provoking but also a nice coffee-table object.
So come on, reveal the urban guerrillero that sleeps in you and spray out the word!

Update 31/03/07
: in order to maintain some sort or parity between France and the UK, I wanted to refer to an article that presents the French scene of street artists. It is to be read in Colour of Bohemia. Thanks Lisa for this insightful coverage.


Downhill or down-ill?

In France during the 70s energy crisis, an advertising was widely spread on the TV screens to cheer up the masses: "En France, on n'a pas de pétrole, mais on a des idées" (In France, we might not have oil, but we have ideas). Well in London, they might not have mountains but they have... tubes! Two videos found on YouTube to illustrate the rich potential of these stations. How and by the way: "Mind the gap!"


You'll never EAT alone...

While Liverpool fans chant their support to their football team, others let their stomach sing the anthem of their beloved Alps... "Grrrrrrmblllll".
But, just like with Ulysses' sirens, if you listen to your belly's refrain, you may end up in hazardous areas. So, attached to the mast of my ship, the Weight Watcher's, I resisted the call of this enchanting dish when I sailed by Hammersmith Sunday market...
And as the exiled king, I triumphed again from the Gods (as I wrote it here already, Tartiflette is indeed truly divine) and passed my way. And so on goes the Odyssey. Or shall I call it the Odietsey?


Quote of the day

"Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own."
Johann W. von Goethe (1749-1832)

And with this, let me wish... allem una bellissima journée.


Comedia del Arte Politico

Elections. Scene 3. Take 1

I remember the first time I was said Ronald Reagan was an actor before becoming the US president I knew. What a choc for me who is from a country where all the politicians tend to come from the same background! A unique post-grad school, the ENA (Ecole Nationale d'Administration), where the future France elite is taught the art of politics. An actor studio where you endorse an ideological role: Pipo the socio, Crystal the Liberal...

In May my fellow-citizens and I will be voting for our next president. So the circus is on the road again. Like every 5 years, the same recurring discussions are coming back in the spotlight: the traditional impossible campaign promises but also the non-sense of having a somehow hermetical political class. We call that the "pensée unique" syndrome (Unique Thought). Politicians go to the same school, sit on the same benches, attend the same lectures, listen to the same teachers... That obviously prevents from refreshing the way the problems are tackled and can only lead to a status quo.

The political circus.

Of course this is a caricature, a farce. This season, we also have a mailman, a business man and an organic farmer who try to play a role on this political scene. But let's face it, even if they manage to have a word or two in the debates, the lead roles remain in hand of the above-mentioned.

So shall we look at the US and their American dream? Once upon a time a western actor, a real one, becomes a US President. And why not a barbarian next? Having said that, I am not sure that it is any better... But this could really happen, that is the beauty (or the frightening thing) about this country: anything can happen. But, hey, after this, you will not be able to say that you had not seen it... coming.


A new Golgotha?

A few hours to go

In a few hours the long-awaited Playstation 3 will finally hit the European markets. It is amazing how such a product release is turned into a massive event. In France, for instance, MTV Group has announced that it will provide a 24-hour nationwide coverage through its MTV and GameOne channels.

In fact, Playstation with its tremendous market penetration has become more than a product. It is now a trans-generational, transnational totem with faithful crowds all around the planet. Instead of a late night prayer to prepare their spirit for the next day match as you can see in some old reportage, nowadays pro footballers prefer to meet around their electronic altar to reiterate their performance on the digital fields. And this altar is branded with a P and a S (although it has nothing to do with Dan Brown's Priory of Scion).

But recently the other schism, the Nintendoism, has reshuffled the gamers' religion with its Wii (Funny enough, in French men use their "little Jesus" to wee, so my religious metaphor seems to have deeper roots than it seems).

Video worshipers

The Wii has indeed outsold the PS3 wherever the later was available. So I am looking forward to seeing if the PS3 will manage to create the same enthusiasm as its predecessors. I still have a vivid image of news reports showing massive queues and crowds fighting to get their device for the previous releases.

To a certain extend this TV commercial was just a repeat of the real life events:

But we are now just a few hours away from the first sales, the first market response, the moment of truth... I can picture the Sony marketing team sitting in its boardroom, holding hands, praying for the success of their marketing efforts. Would they be crucified shall they fail?


Toilet-centric vocabulary

OK, this is probably because I am having a shitty day - working on an uninteresting topic, having to iron two dozens of shirts, getting along with a damn cold... that I suddenly realised some language oddity.

In French, when something pisses you off... well, you don't piss. However it remains close. The "proper" expression is "ça me fait chier" (it makes me defecate).

I must admit I prefer the English expression, especially since I have discovered this website. In a few clicks, you can travel around some of the weirdest urinaries in the world. Like this one:

So to be honest, with such toilets you can still be pissed off, but at least happily.



Iconic or patriotic

Emoticons are having a great momentum these days among the instant messenger providers. MSN offers you some packs, yahoo! counter attacked with its own...
When I received the above GIF in one of my friends' automatic signature, I freaked out. Emoticons are supposed to give more warmth to a cold electronic communication. In other words, to insufflate some feelings in 0 and 1 environment. But this series of emoticons is just too much for me. What feelings are they supposed to convey? Patriotism? National pride? I doubt that a Napoleicon triggers any feelings for instance. And what is this beret wearing guy intends to do by sniffing his baguette like a Romeo y Julietta?


Seriously, these images are just symptomatic of stereotypes used to summarize other cultures. I have talked about this at length (here and here for instance), but for me stereotypes are simply the pauperisation of culture. So yes, these emoticons ultimately trigger a feeling for me: pity.


Picture me...

I have not been as prolific as usual on my blog these days, mainly because I have been busy with my new job, and because I tend to spend quite some time on FlickR:

My pitcures on FlickR

This blog is about my perception of what occurs around me and strikes my attention. If you enjoy what I write, you might be interested in my pictures... After all they are the literal expression of this personal "perspective".