(wwl) wastelands: standing in awe 3/3

January 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

This is the 3rd and last part of a blog post I had written one or two years ago for a friend’s magazine and never published. It’s a gathering of thoughts about the feeling of fascination prompted by wastelands, abandoned places, sites that had once been threaded by life and are now completely empty, or seem to be.
1) Exploring frontiers
2) Contemplating death
3) Staring at the Uncanny

Staring at the uncanny

I think what engulfs us the most when walking around a derelict site is that we can physically experience the uncanny. Where the familiar becomes unfamiliar. Where you can tell people have lived and what they have done because you know the function of the place, and yet you cannot even see their ghosts.

The places we talk about are often left open and vacuous. Yet, they will always and forever belong to an unseizable dimension, they hold secrets we will never be able to crack out. They stand in a fragile shell, impregnated with people’s feelings and stories that will never surface again. Only our imagination can insufflate life into relics, or pretend to do so.

Sven Fennema, Trapped in Solitude, from “Habitat” series

Sven Fennema, Trapped in Solitude, from “Habitat” series

Here we are now. Crossing a frontier, looking at death and musing. Here we are now, walking in the steps of whoever we dare to imagine. And does it make us feel more alive?

To know more about Aurélien Villette aka Adonis’s work, please visit: http://www.adonis-photografic.com/
To know more about Sven Fennema’s work, please visit: http://www.sven-fennema.de/


(wwl) wastelands: standing in awe 2/3

January 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

This is the 2nd part of a blog post I had written one or two years ago for a friend’s magazine and never published. It’s a gathering of thoughts about the feeling of fascination prompted by wastelands, abandoned places, sites that had once been threaded by life and are now completely empty, or seem to be.
1) Exploring frontiers
2) Contemplating death
3) Staring at the Uncanny

Contemplating death

Part of our fascination, I believe, comes from the fact that contemplating abandoned industrial sites forces us to watch death in the face: where there once was life, now there is nothing left.

What we are actually faced with is our own death. Entering modern ruins equals contemplating our own decay. Most of these places were built less than a century ago and could have still been in use. They are not. They have been abandoned and most of the time, have been reclaimed by nature. This reminds us of what we fear the most: disappearance and oblivion. How could such buildings, who have seen men and women working to their erection, sheltered communities, enjoyed the presence of the living, decay that fast? By staring at cracked walls, rusty machines and broken windows, listening to the wind in the leaves, we meet our worst enemy: time.

Aurelien Villette, from “La renaissance” series

Aurelien Villette, from “La renaissance” series

So there is emptiness, there is obsolescence, there is what we fear the most: loss of control. So, is this what our postmodern world will look like? Will we eventually be engulfed into nature? And yet, who could call a decayed hospital, a ruined opera house, a collapsed gymnasium totally dead and empty?

(Read Part III – Staring at the Uncanny here)

(wwl) wastelands: standing in awe 1/3

January 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

I am sharing here a blog post I had written one or two years ago for a friend’s magazine and never published. It’s a gathering of thoughts about the feeling of fascination prompted by wastelands, abandoned places, sites that had once been threaded by  life and are now completely empty. Or, are they?
This falls into 3 “parts”:
1) Exploring frontiers
2) Contemplating death
3) Staring at the Uncanny

As far as I can remember, I have long hold a compelling fascination for abandoned places, industrial relics, wastelands. I believe I am not the only one, as more and more people reveal their thrill to explore these sorts of spaces, mainly through photographs, but also through actual visits. I wish to illustrate my reflection with the work of two photographers: Aurélien Villette and Sven Fennema.

Aurélien Villette, from “L’architecture oubliée” series

Aurélien Villette, from “L’architecture oubliée” series

The feeling awakening inside me when I walk into an abandoned place is almost impossible to describe. It is a mixture of thrill and passion, yet of fear and oppression. I daresay I watch them in awe, in the literal sense of the word. Here I am trying to understand why, today, so many people are eager to discover places that have been left to rot.

Exploring frontiers

We are explorers. If we were to be described, one would say Man is bound to go further and unveil mysteries. The unknown is fearful yet attractive. Today, most of the world have been mapped and confined. What is left for us to explore than what is not mapped any longer, then?

Sven Fennema, Endless Green, from “Over and Done” series

Sven Fennema, Endless Green, from “Over and Done” series

Places that have been left to decay possess the dimension of the unknown provided by the past. If we can’t tell our future, nor can we tell what happened in the past in one place unless we read or were specifically told about it. In industrial wastelands, we come to explore not only space but also time. We stand at a crossroads. Not only do we bring life into a dead spot by our own physical presence, but we also reach a frontier between life and death by facing what had once been alive.

(Read part II “Contemplating death” here).

chronicle #22 cloud obsession / bring the sky down

July 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ever seen clouds underground? Now, yes.

When I was asked by a friend, a month ago, to draw clouds in the subway, I was like “what?” and then he explained. The idea was to bring a portion of the sky in the underground, on line 9 (to be on Cloud 9, get it?). The metro in Paris tends to be a sad place, not because the place itself is sad – well, it’s underground but whoever said underground was sad didn’t nail it – but because people don’t exactly share joy when on the train. It’s hot, it’s crowded, it’s got all the drawbacks in the world if you listen to them. So Buster Adams decided we should put an end to this lethargic state of sadness and set up the Cloud Obsession project.

On June 7, under a pounding sun, I joined a group of ten-ish in front of a photo lab in Nation – east of Paris – Buster was there, waiting for all of us with giant cardboard boxes. We could guess the “clouds” were somewhere in there. Finally, when we all got there – I didn’t know anyone but this experience would be the occasion to make new friends – and the photographer unveiled his work: maxi-sized photographs of the sky, with clouds floating, everywhere. We were given a cloud board each and… off we went down into the subway!


The objective: first stay on the platforms and show people around with these arty clouds, then get on the trains, interact with passengers by putting their heads in clouds, talk to them, smile, share positive energy, get off and start the whole thing again on platforms so that people could suddenly see clouds from the train. Magic if you want my opinion: I would have loved to be on the train at that moment and be surprised by the sky that came down to me instead of falling down on my head.

What I liked: smiling to people from behind the cloud board, taking part in the choreography neatly organized by Buster, that sometimes looked like a ballet, sometimes like a commando operation – especially when the train drivers called for us, warning us the safety risks bringing clouds in the subway could provoke. The reception was also gratifying: I liked that old lady who seemed to be the only one to get the point. As soon as she saw us, she exclaimed: “Oh! How nice of you to bring an exhibition to me!!” And that was the point, Madam, exactly! Bring art to you.

So there we went, for an entire afternoon, bringing the sky here and there, until we reached Porte de Saint-Cloud, where we finally dropped everything and created a cloudy photo cabin just for us to be shot heads in the skies. We’re waiting for the pics. So Thanks Buster for this very very nice & friendly experience. We need to do more of this.

Buster Adams’s website : http://www.busteradams.net/

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chronicle #21 voyage to the dark and back

April 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Haven’t been writing on this blog for a while now. About 9 months to be specific. 9 months of pregnancy, so it seems. I haven’t been literally pregnant of course, but there has been a sort of gestation for these past 9 months. I haven’t been madly in love, I have been madly suffering. I have been unable to fall in love again ever since, although I’ve been trying hard to do so. However today, smiling has become possible again. I have been struggling against my fears. I have been reading poetry, writing, smiling, making projects again. I have been trying to overcome these anxieties preventing me from sleeping at night. I have been smoking a lot. I’m still smoking a lot despite the illness in my lungs. I can’t breathe properly anymore, and I’m turning 25 in a couple of weeks.

What is life? What is love? I have started a psychoanalysis. I’m constantly voyaging to the dark, and back.

So after 9 months, I’m trying to be brave and start sharing again. What I wish to share now is a Danish band I discovered when feeling deeply down. Down, down into darkness and fears. I was wondering if someone would come and save me. Nobody came. Nobody came but myself. I was seeing my own hand reaching for me and the darkest of my fears. So, I guess – I grabbed it.

chronicle #20 how many stars will fall upon our dreams?

August 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last night I fell quietly in love

With a man who belonged to another woman

Quietly, sensitively, musingly

Crystal clear wind was blowing through memories

And I dreamt that tearing dream that dreamt my reality

Ever since, I have been falling quietly in love,

And love has been crumbling down into a billion stars.

How many stars will fall upon our dreams?

How many…?

(wwl) these illuminations next door

July 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Chandelier tree silver lake 1

I was gazing yesterday night towards the screen of my computer, as each night when sleep is scarce. Silence was releasing the tension of the last days… I feel thankful for the upcoming week-end. As I was rummaging through the nightly contents of the Internet, I stumbled upon a sweet street installation: the Chandelier Tree.

This magical tree grows up at the corner of a street in the neighbourhood of Silver Lake, LA. It’s growing big and strong, but the most impressive is that… it grows chandeliers! Yes, yes, it does. And these lights illuminate the streets in a soft serene glimmer. The creator of this peculiar installation needed 6 days years to set it up. He hanged the chandelier with the help of his roommate. I like the sparkle in his eyes, he has laughing eyes. They hanged the first chandelier above the street, so that the neighbours could see it (and to test their reactions). And they loved it. Adam Tenenbaum wanted it to be “unique but not overwhelming and gaudy.” Some of the chandeliers were given by people. Some of them are broken, some other were built from scratch and some even have names given by children from around!

Chandelier Tree Silver Lake 3

As it requires quite much power though, the neighbours are invited to participate in the effort of making their environment sweeter… and can contribute by dropping coins in a repurposed parking meter. It’s such a beautiful way of sharing light and goodness. Art making people’s life sweeter. We humans love and need light. We’re fascinating by lights that draw us away from our own shadows.

It’s such a beautiful idea. I wish we could all enjoy the lights and shadows of such a chandelier tree. I would gaze in wonder at its quiet baroque flames, and softly close my eyelids to think how we can make our world a bit more beautiful.