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.


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