Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall February 23, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite , trackback
The latest in the Love Goddesses series is this wonderful shrine to carnal and spiritual soul-touching that appeared in the city of love, Paris, in Montmartre no less, in 2000. The artist, Frédéric Baron, assembled the words ‘I love you’ in 311 languages (280 by some counts) and then got a colleague and ‘oriental calligrapher’ (now that sounds like a job), to put these up on 612 black embossed tiles. The effect is, by the sorry standards of modern art, stunning. And the official website does a wonderful job of rendering the accompanying prose reflections into perfectly bad but charming English. (‘In a world marked by violence and dominated by individualism, walls, like frontiers, are usually made to divide and to separate people and to protect them from one another. On the contrary, The Wall is a link, a place of reconciliation, a mirror which reflects an image of love and peace.’) In short, it is that kind of bad English that makes you glad for a lack of English-French rapprochement. Other highlights on the site include ‘To give one’s own tongue to the wall’ [is this deliberate?], ‘who speaks what pronunciations’ and, Beach’s favourite ‘Legal notice’, which rather breaks the arrow in Cupid’s bow.
Frédéric B, by all accounts, got the phrases from various sources:
As disciple of Philéas Fogg, Frédéric Baron dreamed of a trip around the world in 80 ‘I love yous’. He did not leave. He asked his younger brother to write the magic phrase. Then he turned to a neighbour who was Arab or Portuguese or Russian…and so on. He opened many doors, particularly those of Embassies. Each time, it was the same mechanism, the same heartfelt fervour.
Beach wonders if anyone ever sabotaged the process. Certainly, if he had been at the Kenyan mission in Paris and an earnest young man turned up and asked how to say ‘I love you’ in Swahili, while warbling on about how walls usually divide and protect, the temptation to say ‘De Gaulle stinks’ or ‘I do not love Franco-phone Africa’ in my mothertongue would have been overpowering. This is idle hoping. But subversion, we are glad to say, has most certainly crept in from another direction. It seems that the tiresome members of the public who have been going to the Wall of Love in their hundreds have started, oh horror, to deface said wall. Young innamorati with too much time and far too many hormones pull out a magic marker or some tippex or worse still a Stanley knife and write their own names on the tiles! We can’t help but wondering what Frédéric thinks about this. Given the tone of his website he’ll probably deal with it all by shrugging gallically. The best art does, after all, take on a life of its own.Vox populi, vox amoris?
Beach is on the hunt for Love Goddesses: Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. Here are our earlier efforts.