Monday, June 28, 2010


It's been hot and sunny in Paris for days, at times pushing close to 90 degrees. The heat hasn't kept us from walking around for hours, but we've had to be creative to stay comfortable. Once we found a stately fountain and peeled our shoes off to get our feet wet. We hadn't yet realized how close we were to the air conditioned Pompidou Center around the corner... ready to enter "Dreamlands", a gorgeous exhibit open through August 9th.

This show took tons of things I've been long attracted to (amusement parks, photography, talking cardboard robots) and pulled a common thread out of all of them to create a theme of juxtaposition run amok, for better or worse, but mostly for better. It began with one of my favorite places on earth, Coney Island, and the creation of its first amusement park "Dreamland." So what do Coney Island, Disney world, the Truman Show, Dubai, and every World Expo have in common? This exhibit showed us that these have been common points for the obsession we have with planting ourselves in self-created, alternate environments. We're constantly placing ourselves, for amusement, into imagined worlds. Take Las Vegas: Paris in the desert, or New York City in the desert? Take your pick.

There are people across the decades who have devoted their entire careers to creating environments that have the ability to warp our perceptions about our own place in the world: in one you can be either Gulliver, or a Lillipution; in another, Alice walking through the looking glass, either pre- or post "Drink Me". The show is peppered with gorgeous photography of these odysseys, insanely beautiful in their own right. I was especially moved by a series of photographs of places that are named for another place, that have, in their essence, no resemblance to the place for which it's named (a vast expanse of wildflowers in Paris, Texas, for example).

The show had the extra benefit for me personally of ending on a dreamy note. It's held in the 6th floor of the Pompidou, and when you exit it, you're greeted by the giant clear walking corridor tubes that wrap themselves around the outside of the building, offering up extreme views of the otherworldly (to me) city below.

No comments:

Post a Comment