Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mad Vicky not there

I was very late to leave the house the last few days. Not sure why but I think I was challenged by the fact that even though I was leaving during the day, I'd have to be dressed for the evening because I wouldn't be coming back home to change. Silly but true. It's not so easy to relinquish the comfortable shoes for heels and walk around from noon until dinner in them. I had to compromise a lot of my plans and curtail some of my activities because of being dressed for dinner at noon. When I did get out of the house I went to Le Musee du Quai Branly. I like how it's possible for some museums to include outside elements into the design and function of the museum. La Fondation Cartier does this and Le Musee du Quai Branly does this too. There was a great exhibition called UpsideDown about art from the Artic. Inside there was art from Papua New Guinea (all somehow functional and used in day to day life for various ceremonies etc.) reminded me of the paintings of Emile Nolde. There was one work from Santa Ana, one of the Solomon Islands, a shark with a skull in it, that had such strong connections to the shark of Damien Hirst which in turn most likely owes something to the sharks of Ashley Bickerton who lives in a similar part of the world where this shark originated ( I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.(

I had lunch by myself at La Carette in Trocadero earlier that day; very fashionable, Lotus Blossom tea and lots of shopping bags from Lanvin all around. And that evening another very French restaurant in Montparnasse, I can't remember the name. Before dinner I had been in Le Marais for the first year anniversary of a designer's shop. I forget her name too, but I had a great conversation with a woman who designs and makes handbags. She used to be an artist she said but then decided to design bags instead. Her father is a well known photographer who took pictures of Modern art greats like Picasso. Her mother has a foundation for Van Gogh in Arles. Her boyfriend is a dealer in Modern art and since she comes to NYC from time to time we agreed to see each other again sometime there so I could introduce her to one of my friends who represents designers and has a showroom in NYC for high end luxury items.

The next day I woke early and went to the area around Gare de Lyon to see my friend Wael. He just came back from NYC and gets ready to go to Dubai to do a job directing a series of interviews. We went to Hotel de Ville so I could shop for some things I saw the night before but didn't want to carry. It makes no sense to shop here since most things are cheaper in the US. But I shopped vintage which is not the same everywhere and quite original and particular and relative to some other vintage stores in NYC and Paris, this place was not expensive.

Next my friend took me to a rather strange place in Menilmontant, a cafeteria in a dorm which houses African workers. The place was modest to say the least and there were no other women there except me and one more young African girl. I had rice and mafe. One ride on a bus through Paris and I felt like I had traveled all the way to Africa. It boy was it a trip! Wael said he appreciated places like that which were made simply to feed people. Their primary concern was not to make money or to make a pretty social experience. I had to agree. It was the sort of place that confronted you with your own humanness and humanity, and we agreed that in life we needed to be able to do both - La Carette and La Cafeteria; that both extremes were essential for a full appreciation of life. I thought about the influence of Africans on the work of artists too, like Nadine de Koenigswarter, who I had visited earlier in the week. She said it's hard, and sad, when you're there in Africa and realize that you're free to come and go as you please, but they cannot because it is difficult and sometimes near impossible for them to get visas to travel to Europe. We went to Wael's production studio next which was in a small impasse and he told me there were plans to raze many of the old buildings and build new apartments in that area of Oberkampf/Menilmontant. There was a sign hung over the impasse suggesting its imminent demise. After a couple noisettes at a cafe in Menilmontant I left Wael waiting for a friend and went to Montmartre in search of Mad Vicky's Tea Gallery on rue Nicolet. With some help from a woman at a hotel I found it but was disappointed to see it was closed! I came all that way for a metal shutter, no art, no chai tea. It was the place created by the girls from Coco Rosie; American artists, one of whom lives in Paris I believe. They make visual art and music and I wanted to see what they did with the gallery, and if they were around, to maybe meet one of them...Oh well.

I went home next and changed for dinner. That morning I wore jeans and flats for a change and it was freezing more than most days so I bundled up. At home I packed and confirmed to meet my friends for champagne at their house on Avenue Victor Hugo. I'll call them the Two V's for the sake of discretion and keeping a "low profile"; a phrase I hear a lot in Paris from various friends and acquaintances. I spend a lot of time hanging out with people and dining and it seems quite normal and pleasurable to do this for hours; not like in NYC where I'm always looking at the clock wondering when I had to leave to go to the next appointment. So I stayed about two hours with the Two V's talking about everything from art to politics to drug use and pregnancy. They are great girls and I realized how happy and lucky I was to spend time with them.

Later I met a friend for dinner at Tong Yen near the Champs Elysees. Apparently it's a very popular place with high profile locals and tourists alike. I took a picture with Therese the owner who has been running the place since she took it over from her father.

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