Street Art Subversion Goes Retro in Paris

by Joseph Nechvatal on July 31, 2014

second posters agreeing with the restriction

“D’Accord” poster in Montparnasse, Paris (all photos by the author Hyperallergic)

PARIS — The City of Light is rightly recognized as an interesting place for street art, especially in the Right Bank’s scruffier neighborhoods, where I am used to seeing plenty of it. But when it pops up in the rather chic areas, such as my Montparnasse, it tends to stand out even more. The more modish surroundings frame and contrast the work better, enhancing its presence and impact. This has been the case this summer with a spate of interesting examples along Boulevard Raspail.

I first noticed two discreet but hilarious small posters that, through Duchampian understatement, cheekily tweaked establishment rule. Next to official metal plaques announcing a restricted area that forbids posters were placed rectangular posters agreeing with the restriction: “D’accord.”

Then came a wave of full-sized human figure posters that confronted and provoked. This work consisted of a series of young people holding announcement cards presenting themselves to the street as queer, lesbian, and of alternative sexual preference.

There was a fourth and different lesbian poster immediately across the street from my front door, but that one was torn down the day after it was placed there, leaving behind a ghostly witness.

I don’t exactly know what meaning the posters are trying to convey, but I take them to insist something like: “We are queer, we are here, get used to it.”

And we are used to it. Directly around the corner from the destroyed lesbian poster, at 27 rue de Fleurus, sits the permanent marble plague announcing the abode of the famous lesbian couple Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

*   *   *

posters agreeing with the restriction zoom

D’Accord stickers in Montparnasse

human figure Lesbian posters 1

“Lesbian” poster

human figure Queer posters 2

“Queer” poster

human figure Altersexual posters 5

“Altersexual” poster

remains of human figure lesbien posters

Traces of removed “Lesbian” poster

Gertrude Stein plaque

27 rue de Fleurus, former home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas



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