Filmothèque on rue Champollion in Paris is the place to go for classic movies including those made in the days before it was all cgi, when film still seemed to have some authentic magic. Sometimes they show even older films, made in the days when real men wore hats. This is an old photograph, taken when I walked past and spotted this dapper looking hat-wearer tarrying with the fantasies of the silver screen some time around November or December 2010.
Hands lunge for glasses perched on a makeshift table that will become a car once again after the haze has cleared. Carefree chatter swells to fill the interval between songs. The weary sit. The energetic jostle and laugh, all thrown back heads and darting eyes.
And somewhere on this Parisien pavement reclaimed, feet shuffle closer, and then pause.
The noise and life that clothe this Friday evening will cloak them also, protecting their modesty and preserving their secret. Amid the bustle they will have been forgotten before they have even been consigned to memory. Perhaps we should also allow them their privacy. Perhaps we should not notice either.
But their feet give them away.
Architecture induces certain kinds of effects (and affects) on and in bodies so that we experience space temporally and through certain kinds of affective and cognitive responses. The layout of a gallery or a museum, for example, creates possible sequences for us to follow, so that bodies can be organised in particular ways as they pass through it. Spirals are a good example of this, designed to facilitate flows and circulation, as Le Corbusier quickly recognised. It’s always quite nice, then, when these artifical ways of organising space and managing bodies within space are undone; when the spiral staircase ceases to be concerned with a rational ordering that privileges movement, but instead becomes a meeting point as subjects occupying that space parody its layout and undo it, pausing the flow, halting the circulation to simply stand, smile, and talk, enjoying a moment of human time that disrupts rational organisation and induced effects on bodies by instead privileging human experience. Sudden moments of life that disrupt the patterns: a smile, words thrown and caught and then tossed back with a grin, all showing the limits of formal attempts to order not only space, but our responses to it. A triumph of the real, and a triumph of life itself, and if there’s any place you’d want that then it’s in the Louvre, a space devoted to aesthetic concerns, which is to say, a space devoted to how sensations are experienced, understood, and represented. I wonder what art they had seen that had so caught their imagination?
Amid some pleasant chaos outside a Panthéon hidden by Christmas trees, two friends hug – and I feel terribly intrusive for having photographed them.