Archive for April, 2011
My first visit to Paris was actually a mad chase after all the touristic attractions and the ‘must-see’, ‘must-go’, ‘must-do’ places: I saw the Tour Eiffel sparkling at night, walked along the Champs-Élysées, all the way to Arc de Triomphe , climbed the steep streets of the Montmartre and sighed when I saw the beauty of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. I paid a visit to the old cemetery of Montparnasse and looked for Jean Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett’s graves. I Photographed the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, along with hundreds of people, searched for the old synagogue in Le Marais and drank coffee in the famous Café de Flore in Boulevard Saint-Germain. I visited Centre Pompidou and for shopping I went to Gallery Lafayette. If this was not enough, I also French kissed while looking over the Notre Dame.
All of this happened twelve years ago, when I visited Paris by myself for the first time and indulged myself in the touristic Parisian days and night. I was a student on summer break. What did I know….
But my second and third visits to Paris were completely different. I was already a ‘well-travelled’ person who is more curious about how the locals live than how the tourists spend their days and I did so many other things. I called these visit ‘Paris for the Advanced Users’. Paris for the Advanced Users is for those who had already been to Paris at least once — and for those who prefer discovering a city while taking the side streets and not following the touristic path.
If you are an advance user, or want to be one, here are few places worth checking.
La Butte aux Cailles: A small Parisian neighborhood, located on the hills of the 13th Arrondissement. The neighborhood was originally a fenced village outside Paris that was annexed to the city in 1860. It is characterized by mostly small, low-rise buildings in an Art Nouveau style, similar to the traditional buildings in northern France and Russia.
Some of the buildings have small courtyards, which are open to the public during daylight hours and locked after dark. The uniqueness of this neighborhood is characterized by its narrow streets and cobblestone roads around small squares, which once served as a central meeting place in the village. In Place Paul Verlaine you can find an active and natural spring water source; you can even drink from it and it also serves as a natural source of water to the other fountains in the neighborhood’s courtyards. The neighborhood that once was inhabited by working-class people, has now become extremely popular among young artists, and it attracts wealthy residents who appreciate the charm and the artistic non-metropolitan atmosphere of the place. If you are not looking for touristic attractions, then this is the place for you.
You should visit the neighborhood in the afternoon, walk around the galleries and the courtyards and end your evening at a local restaurant bustling with Parisians of all ages, and where waiters don’t know a word of English.
Directions: Get off the Metro line 6 at Corvisart and go up the Rue des Cinq Diamants until getting to the heart of the neighborhood at Rue de la Butte aux Cailles.
BNF: Bibliothèque Nationale de France: The National Library of France is located in Tolbiac area in the 13th Arrondissement as well. It is considered the largest and most important library in France. The original location was in Rue de Richelie in the 2nd Arrondissement from 1720 until it was moved to the current site, (also called the Francois Mitterrand site) in 1996. Mitterrand gave the library a legal status of public institution in 1988 and turned it into one of the most important and advanced libraries in the world.
The site consists of four towers; Tower School, Tower Court, Wind Tower and Tower Time, and its architecture resembles a book holder and — when seen from above — it resembles an open book. The quantity of the books is immense; 10 million documents and writings, spread over an area of over 420 miles of bookshelves. Visiting the library is both an architectural and intellectual experience. It is worth paying the fee to get into the reading rooms and see the interior of the building. The site is even more spectacular and impressive in the evening, when the buildings are lit up.
Directions: Get off the Metro line 14 at Bibliotheque Fr . Mitterrand.
Place de la Nation: A square, situated on the border between the 11th and the 12 Arrondissements, has a great monument of Marion, one of the national symbols of the French Republic, as she stands on the globe in a carriage drawn by lions. The monument, which symbolizes the triumph of the Republic, was established to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The adjacent streets will lead you to a colorful area with walls covered in frequently changing graffiti.
Directions: Get off the Metro line 6 at Nation.
Ecole Nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts: The National Superior School of Art, also called ‘The Bazar of Paris’, is considered one of the world’s most prestigious schools for art. It is located on rue Bonaparte, in the middle of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, which is filled with art galleries, furniture stores and interior design studios. There is no better place for the school to be located; if the students ever need an inspiration, they can always cross the Seine and head straight to the Louvre.
The school was established in 1648 and includes a complex of four buildings around a courtyard patio dotted with sculptures. Although the school entrance is reserved for students and faculty members only, you can get an organized tour with a guide from the school on Mondays. It is a great and fascinating way to absorb art that’s a little bit different than going to a museum.
Directions: Get off the Metro line 12 at Rue du Bac and continue until you get to Rue de L’ Universite. Turn right until you reach the intersection of Rue Bonaparte. Entrance is at number 14.
Canal Saint Martin: Canal Saint Martin is a combination of the old Paris and the new one. There are many little cafe’s along the canal next to small boutiques and local galleries. In sunny days you can find the local Parisians rolling up their sleeves or pants and getting a sun tan on the sidewalks while having lunch outdoors. The canal was carved out between 1822 and 1825 at the request of Napoleon the first, to provide the people of Paris with drinking water. With time, this canal has become one of the most romantic spots in the city, with planted banks and narrow foot bridges that might remind you how Paris used to be. Don’t miss Pâtisserie de l’Eglise Demoncy, an old pâtisserie opened in 1887, which served few Parisians generations with chocolates, Éclairs and tartlets.
Directions: Get off the Metro line 5, 9, 11 at Republique or 4, 5, 7 at Gare de Lest.
More places worth visiting:
Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation: A must for those who love photography. Apart from Cartier-Bresson’s exhibit, there are three different changing exhibits throughout the year.
Museum Nissim de Komondo: One of the most luxurious private houses of the early 20th century, it belonged to a Parisian banker who was an avid collector of furniture and artifacts from the 19th century.
Cite Internationale Universitaire: Residence of foreign students, who come to study in Paris, from over 140 countries. Sometimes the dorms are more interesting than the class halls.
One shot of espresso and the rest is extra foam. 4 times a day. sliced lebanese vegetable salad, Neve Tzedek, Dalal cafe, Suzanna for lunch. Rotschild Boulevard, Montifiori Boutique hotel, Breakfast club, Pomelo. Salty cookies of Abadi. Beta cafe, The Carmel Market, Lulu cafe in Basel street on a Friday afternoon. The outdoor half Olympic pool at the Tel Aviv university. Little black dress, Abu Gosh’s humus, Jaffa flea market. A note and a prayer at the Wailing wall. Black high heels shoes of Shoemaker. Florentine, Alenby 99. Braserie, Leonardo hotel, cafe-cafe, c-cafe, Siatra sea and sun. The corner cafe in Masrik square. Tea with mint, tea without mint, Meyumana dance show, printing big sized prints for my gallery show ‘Next Stop Manhattan’. Breakfast at the seaport, Dinner at the seaport. Vanilia ice cream in Yehuda Maccabi street. A show in the Kamery theater, Mom’s dinners on a Friday night. Dad’s cooking on Saturday’s lunches. Noya’s Moroccan Fish, Body lotion of Laline, 3 books for the price of 1. One master card to pay for it all.and be back to Tel Aviv, even just for a minute…Priceless.
Visiting Serge Gainsbourg at Montparnasse old cemetery, eating baguette and French cheese on a bench in Jardin du Luxembourg, the Pantheon, Odeon, The Sorbonne. Chocolate Nutella, Picard frozen food, Diptyque perfume at 34 Bulevard Saint Germain. Running along the seine river, waking up to the sound of bells of the Notre Dame, standing in a long line to get into the Notre Dame. White blue stripped shirt, Taking the Metro instead of the Subway, Climbing to the Montmartre in a late afternoon and watching the sun goes down. Chocolate bliss at Un Dimanche a Paris, Chocolats rive gauche and at Maison Larnicol. Manet exhibit at Musees d’Orsay, Claude Monet village at Giverny, cafe de Flore at St Germain des Pres, getting lost in the little streets of St. Germain des Pres. Eiffel Tower after midnight. Patisserie, Brasserie, standing in line on a Sunday morning outside the local Boulangerie. The mythological store Laduree. Rue de Rivoli, Jardin des Tuileries, designing stores such as Colette and Merci. La Defense. Beautiful boutiques at Rue St. Honore, Lunch at Printemps rooftop, Macarons at Hugo and Victor, Maison de Victor Hugo, Gallery Lafayette shoe searching. Walking around Musee de Louvre, Jewish restaurant at Le Marais. Pink doors at Fauchon, Butter cake in Poilane bakery. Getting the last pair of Pretty Ballerina shoes, getting chocolate ice cream at Ile de la Cite, buying so many soaps of Le Petit Marseillais, Watching the new Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris” while being in Paris and doing all the above with a charming French Photographer….Priceless!
I know there is that sentence ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. As for me, I just love to eat the lemons! Just like that. Straight. I am spending the month of April in Tel Aviv, my home town, for a holiday visit and my friends took me to this new Italian restaurant, in the middle of the flea market in Jaffa. It was a Saturday afternoon, the market was closed and the streets were quiet. We were talking about life in Tel Aviv in comparison to life in New York, about the latest Graffiti exhibit that was just opened in Tel Aviv museum (Street Art in a museum?) and how Tel Aviv is getting equipped with street bikes.
The sun was out, I was eating my lemons and catching up with friends was just perfect.
This shot was actually one of the first ones which initiated my on going project ‘On the Table’
Like a lot of things in life, this photography project started with a random image. Like a lot of times in life, sometimes you have to get away from a place in order to rediscover it. These two sentences basically initiated my on-going photography project called “Intimacy Under the Wires.”
As a street photographer based in New York City, I hardly (if ever) come across the sight of laundry hung outside windows to get dry. It was a very common thing for me to see, however, when I grew up in Israel.
I was on a holiday visit to Israel on April 2010 when it all started.
I made plans to meet a friend at the flea market in old Jaffa and he was late. While waiting for him, I wandered the quiet back streets of this old and vivid neighborhood, when a woman’s voice from an upper floor caught my attention. I looked up and saw her hanging her laundry outside the balcony. For some, it may be an ordinary chore, but I haven’t seen that since I moved to Manhattan 10 years ago. I stayed there, standing in the street under the crumbling balcony, and observed her. Few minutes after she hung her clothes, a warm breeze from the sea came by and animated them.
I just had to take a picture!
After Tel Aviv, I had a stop in London for few days, and then there was the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, so I got stuck for a week there. I used the time to walk in the streets of London and take a lot of pictures. I was in Brixton, London, when I took this image, which is one of my favorites.
I think this image made me wonder about the people who wear these clothes. I really wanted to know more about them. What they do for a living? How do they look? But mostly wanted to know about their character. So I think this image really made me think further.
From looking at someone’s laundry we can tell so much about them and their families without even meeting them. Some have all work shirts, some party dresses, some uniforms, children’s clothes, tank tops, t-shirts, sexy lingerie and so on.
Laundry is something so personal and private yet so public. Looking at laundry seems so mundane, yet when you delve into it, you realize laundry tells of people’s intimate lives. They hang their sheets, their night clothes, even their underwear for all to see. We would never expose these personal things if we were actually in them, would we?
This project, which was named by Phaidon “Intimacy Under the Wires,” is not just about laundry.
It is about the differences among the cultures, the places and the people who wear these clothes. I love traveling to different places, taking portraits of city streets and their dynamics. I often say that I don’t take people’s portraits but cities’. Since that afternoon in Israel, I am drawn to images of laundry.
In every city there is that area, usually in old neighborhoods, where laundry is hung up outdoors. It amazes me to see how laundry is similar in different countries and cultures and yet so different. When I take a picture of laundry I always make sure to relate it to its location. Whether it’s a street sign, a building, a window, I am also interested in the texture and colors of the buildings where the laundry is out to dry.
Another layer hidden or not hidden in this project, beside intimacy, is our urge toward voyeurism. We are all voyeurs. Photographers maybe more than others.
When I shoot these images, I am standing under the laundry wires and waiting for the right moment, when a breeze passes by and brings life, energy and rhythm to the clothes. I find laundry very intimate and sexy, and when I shoot, the act of looking up, is like the feeling of being under someone, unseen, a voyeur, a spy, like sitting under the boardwalk at the beach and watching people walk by, unaware. And this is actually what we photographers mostly do: spy with our cameras and tell stories with the images.