Paris as Pastureland
Paris has suddenly become a pastureland.
Saturday after practicing speaking French at the Parler Parlor Conversation Group at Eurocentres in the 6th arrondissement, I did one of those marathon walks one can easily do in Paris, stopping five times for a drink or a meal at different cafés to meet up with various friends at each repose, strolling through the city’s illustrious streets and parks.
At this time of year, Paris is a photo-op waiting to happen. Flowers are in full bloom (particularly the tulips), the air is fresh and the sun peaks out from time to time from behind the threatening clouds. The vast and elegant Luxembourg Gardens is overrun with statuesque tranquility, adorned by the bright natural floral colors, adored by human eyes.
I was struck by the contrast of that which is false and that which is real. What is false are merely replications of that which is real…the metal and stone carvings of both humans and animals, set as a focal point on the grassy planes or telling a story in the context of flowing fountains. How human-scale and humanesque the city is in all its glory!
In my mind, I could imagine the conversation taking place between the three old friends who sat on the bench, one of them turned backward with her legs dangling out the back, just to be able to speak fluidly to the others. The falling water created a soft white noise in the background. The view in either direction was stunningly beautiful on this crisp Spring day.
Among the bronze statuary throughout the city, the centuries-old buildings acting as backdrops, are placed in what seems like a haphazard way, hundreds of fiberglass life-size cows. The Cow Parade (or “Vach’Art”, as it’s called in French) is taking a grazing through Paris till June 16th, with a final herding planned to arrive a La Défense June 19 – 26.
Standing calmly at Place Saint Sulpice, painted in a hot pink that lit up my digital camera’s eye, is N°107 by artist Agnes Vidrequin, executed by G.Deshayes, sponsored by Bathroom Graffiti. Sponsored by the French Ministry of Culture and with the collaboration of more than 3,000 artists, the extraordinary farm fair will culminate in an auction on June 30th (at Artcurial) to raise money for the Africa Alive Foundation, which fights malnutrition and AIDS in Africa. The Cow Parade has already supported numerous charitable organizations since the first exhibition in Zurich in 1998, thanks to the support of the more than 1,500 sponsors and the 16 cities that have welcomed the event.
Why the cow? It was chosen as a symbol of universality and kindness. In many religions and cultures, cows represent all things good — an emblem of life…nourishment, motherhood, power of Earth, plenty, procreation, gentleness, nurturing.
Not a bad reason to turn Paris into pastureland.
For more information, visit the official site (in French) at http://www.vach-art.fr
Happy French Labor Day.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
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P.P.S. Don’t forget to join me and other Parler Paris readers next Tuesday, May 9th, at La Pierre du Marais for Après Midi. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information.