Big Horn Battle On a Bridge In Paris

photo: cafe le panorama

Here is some of our spring-time sunshine that
I write about below.

Out of Africa, Between the Right
and Left Banks

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 22. March 1999:- For the past while this magazine hasn't been all it should be, because I have a couple of extra tasks to do that I wasn't expecting. In a way they are all related and they take up time I'd rather spend doing Metropole.

My weekly 'info-collect' is getting better, but because of this other thing, more items get on to the floor and never get off it - so Metropole is less than it should be. If it has seemed to you that I'm losing interest, this is not the case.

I know this is a bit unfair becausephoto: ousmane 'figure' you don't know what I'm forced to 'leave on the floor,' but I'm trying not to shortchange you as much as possible. Trying a one-man coverage of Paris is an impossible task in any case, but I am slogging along at it despite the dropouts.

On the Pont des Arts last Wednesday, to see a preview of Ousmane Sow's show.

To give me an idea of what might be possible with a couple of extra legs and hands, reader Allan Pangborn has been finding things for me on his own initiative, and this has been a big help. Too bad his visit is only temporary.

On the Passerelle des Arts

Last Wednesday, I had to take care of one of these 'extra tasks' before tackling Paris. As soon as it was finished I called Allan and we fixed a rendezvous by the Seine.

Earlier, I received an invitation from city hall to attend an opening ceremony of an art exhibition. Because of its date and time I wasn't going to be able to attend, so I wanted to find out if the exhibition could be seen beforehand.

From the café where we met, it was possible to see the Passerelle des Arts, which is a pedestrian shortcut between the Louvre and the Quartier Latin. But it wasn't possible to see if the sculptures of Ousmane Sow were in place, because of the number of people on the bridge.

Getting closer revealed that the exhibit was mostly in placephoto: ousmanr 'horseman' and the rest was being set up - and the crowds were there as much for it as for the good weather, which is hesitant about being spring one day and certain of it the next - and last Wednesday was one of the 'certain' days.

Just one of the horses on the bridge; just one of the 2000 Indians at the battle.

When all the figures are in place on the footbridge, there will be 11 near-full-size horses and 28 people, and they are Ousmane Sow's representation of the principal actors of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Before he was 50, Ousmane Sow was kind of a normal guy in Senegal, but since then he has been working at sculpture full time and his first big show was at the Dokumenta in Kassel in 1992. Since then, he has gone on to other triumphs in other parts of the world, more well-known than Kassel.

Mostly, Ousmane Sow has done Africans, but he also helped out with France Bi-Centennial in 1989. A clip on TV-news showed him working on his life-sized figures - from scratch; right out of his head - and wielding his material by hand, rather than with tools. It was very impressive to see.

I have mixed feelings about whether the bridge makes a good gallery though. A good point is, there is a lot of light. But the bridge is long and narrow, the figures are earth colors; so when seeing them lengthwise, they tend to blend. Looking from the side, gives a big background of river, islands and city, but it is not possible to get back far enough to see more than the sub-tableaus - and, the bridge is still being used for its proper purpose, as a pedestrian passerelle.

These are mere quibbles on a sunny day like last Wednesday. The bridge is a good open-air hang-out spot, and Ousmane Sow's sculptures make it very lively - his figures are very dynamic and strong.

The Battle of the Little Big Horn may seem odd in Paris, with all dressed in various shades of African mud, but it was a hard fight in reality and Ousmane Sow has really captured it.

This outdoor show is not only free, but you get to cross the Seine at the same time. The official opening day for the public was on Saturday, and the figures will remain in place until Thursday, 20. May. If you are in Paris, don't miss it.

After a good, long look, Allan and I got to the left bank and went up the Rue de Seine to say hello to the good folks at La Palette and then proceeded on to stroll around a small part by Buci and Odéon. Wephoto: ousmane 'gunfight' got planted in a noodle joint and started telling stories, overlooking the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Here is old George, just about to get popped in the gut.

As we were heading back to the right bank by way of the Pont Neuf, the sun was low and had all of the Quai des Orfèvres washed in gold and I was cursing my full camera - you either get these shots or you don't get another chance.

At home, when I unloaded the thing, I did the bang-the-head-against- the-wall routine when I discovered it had two unused shots left in it. Fully forgotten on account of the noodle blab. Ah hell, it was a really good day though.

Tocqueville This Week

'The Tocqueville Connection's' Camille Mackler writes about 'Nanas on the Web,' which men are allowed to look at, but are not encouraged to make comments about. So I didn't look and I make no comment except to merely suggest you give 'Tocqueville' a hit and take a look at 'Girl Talk' under 'France On the Web' and try out some of the ideas you will find. Okay?

Last Reminder: UNESCO Web Prize

Artists, designers and programmers are invited to sign up - until 31. May - to enter their Web sites, especially if they involve themes of UNESCO interest. There are two categories for entries; 'anything goes' and anything that could qualify a site for an '.Org' registration. There's two prizes of US$5,000 each at stake.

Paris' 'LiveCam' Shows Typical Weather

Quite a few Metropole readers are giving this site a hit because they think I should know about the weather in Paris and they write to tell me about it. Thank you. This peep-show comes from TF1-TV's 'LiveCam.' If you want to see what typical spring weather looks like, now you will see it - for what it's worth to see Paris bathed in bright, blinding sunlight or dull and chilly overcast. I will content myself with looking out of a closed window.

count down Eiffel TowerThis Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 3.12 - 23. March 1998 - This issue featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'Philosophy and the Front National' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Elections Turn Right Into Shambles' The issue had two features; entitled 'All That's Fit to Print - Salon du Livre, Part I' and 'Looking for Bears in the Jardin des Plantes.' This appeared on account of the eMail from Ron Roizen, about bears. There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Gone Out.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 285 cool days of light breezes and weak sun getting stronger.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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