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Friday, April 14, 2006

Trip with Jiekai - Part 8
Day 3 - Paris (2/4) - Commentary on Yves Klein, Concert

supplemented with some of Jiekai's pictures in lieu of mine, which have been lost for eternity due to his cockitude

At the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, visitors had to pay €5 for a ticket which was supposed to give access to the Dome and Crypt. The latter was closed, however. The stranger bit was that tickets were dispensed from a ticket machine. Yet, there was a man standing there. Wth. Also, the machine proclaimed that it only accepted French credit cards. Are they even allowed to discriminate against foreigners so blatantly?!

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Pompidou Centre (I didn't go there, but Jiekai did)

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View from the top of the Pompidou Centre (?)

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A piece of "art" from everyone's favourite artist, Yves Klein (so Jiekai tells me. This might be the one by Ellsworth Kelly though). If it's by Yves Klein, it should be "Monochrome IKB 3, 1960. Pigment pur et résine synthétique sur toile marouflée sur bois"

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View from the top of the Pompidou Centre (?)

Digression: extract from a July 2005 post:

"It seems I had underestimated the depths to which modern art had sunk. This is worse than paint being spilled. At least that has some variation.

I wonder how much the museum paid for this trash. Hopefully they were 'donated by the artist'.

Tim: from the guggenheim write-up:
He soon began to make paintings in separate panels that can be recombined to produce alternate compositions, as well as multipanel paintings in which each canvas is painted a single color.

pure forms supposed to evoke something
disgust, maybe

On a clear night in March at ten pm sharp a crowd of one hundred people, all dressed in black tie attire, came to the Galerie International d'Art Contemporain in Paris. The event was the first conceptual piece to be shown at this gallery by their new artist Mr. Yves Klein. The gallery was one of the finest in Paris.

Mr. Klein in a black dinner jacket proceeded to conduct a ten piece orchestra in his personal composition of The Monotone Symphony, which he had written in 1949. This symphony consisted of one note.

Three models appeared, all with very beautiful naked bodies. They were then conducted as was the full orchestra by Mr. Klein.

The music began. The models then rolled themselves in the blue paint that had been placed on giant pieces of artist paper - the paper had been carefully placed on one side of the galleries' wall and floor area - opposite the full orchestra. Everything was composed so breathtakingly beautifully. The spectacle was surely a metaphysical and spiritual event for all. This went on for twenty minutes.

When the symphony stopped it was followed by a strict twenty minutes of silence, in which everyone in the room willingly froze themselves in their own private meditation space.

At the end of Yves' piece everyone in the audience was fully aware they had been in the presence of a genius at work, the piece was a huge success! Mr. Klein triumphed. It would be his greatest moment in art history, a total success.
The spectacle had unquestionable poetic beauty, and Mr. Kleins' last words that night were, "THE MYTH IS IN ART".

shit man"

After the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, I went back to Sainte Chapelle for a concert. It was very grand having a concert in a 13th Century chapel built by St Louis.

"Les violons virtuoses premier grand prix des orchestres d'lle-de-France" under Alexandre Stajic
Pieces performed: Schubert - Mass in G major, Mozart - Requiem
There was another concert at 8:45pm with a Mendelssohn and Mozart's Divertimento in F Major, but it would've cost me another 15 Euros (diminishing marginal utility coupled with a shortened attention span and all that), and besides, I needed to have dinner. The woman at the counter suggested that this, the 7pm performance, was the better concert, and so I went for it.

"Les violons virtuoses" turned out to compose of only 8 instrumentalists, all on the strings. They must've been really confident of their virtuosity. Before the concert the ensemble was very bored, and I heard one violinist playing one of the famous bits from La Campanella, and another part of the 40th Symphony (neither of which were on the program, which might otherwise explain their actions). The only flaw in the performance was that the cellos were playing a bit too loud, perhaps to compensate for missing instruments.

It was quite interesting to have 2 masses in one concert. The place was a bit echoey, and this was exacerbated by my being in the back row, but the atmosphere of the place mostly made up for it. The echoey-ness of the place also helped the small ensemble be heard.

I'd heard the Schubert Mass before, but I wasn't very familiar with it. Their rendition sounded quite good, though (and so I wonder if my issues with the Requiem was because of bad interpretation or personal preference).

I don't know why some male soloists like to put their hands on their chests when they sing. I don't think females do this.

Midway through the Schubert mass, 1 trombonist, 2 clarinettists and 2 oboeists appeared from downstairs. In retrospect, this made sense, though it would've been fun to see the conductor or a soloists imitate a tuba in Tuba Mirum.

I was wondering why the choir was not mentioned on the leaflets promoting the concert. Actually, come to think of it, neither were the soloists, though I didn't have any complaints about them (except the vibrato which, sadly, is de rigueur with soloists - surely there's another way to make your voice distinct?!)

Unfortunately, I suffered a butt cramp during the Introitus, which also happens to be my favourite movement, so I wasn't able to give the performance my full attention. I did notice that the choir sounded too eager (maybe they needed to finish in time so the staff could prepare for the 8:45pm concert) and was singing too quickly, and their singing the syllables in such a staccato manner didn't help either (it should've been much more legato).

Even the Dies Irae sounded rushed, which is admittedly hard to do (objectively the speed wasn't that fast - maybe it was the echoey venue causing the sounds to trip over each other). I also think the ensemble and choir started at a different tempo.

Confutatis was horrible, as ironically it was too legato. The male voices were supposed to have a sharp bite as they thundered, but instead of being bowled over by gigantic wabes, I felt myself getting seasick as choppy water made my vomit.

Otherwise, the rendition was quite good. I found myself shivering at some parts, and not only because of the draft and my removing of my coat. If I were female I'd have cried during Lacrymosa.

*Facade of the Conciergerie*
This picture has been lost for eternity due to Jiekai's cockitude

*Sainte Chapelle and the French Ministry of justice*
This picture has been lost for eternity due to Jiekai's cockitude

*Graffiti in Paris metro - JIC - "Jiekai Is Cock"*
This picture has been lost for eternity due to Jiekai's cockitude

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Dinner in a south-west French food restaurant ("Paul et Marcy"): Appetisers - Foie gras sur salade printaniere and salade gaillarde irillettes, noix sur salade (I copied it from the menu but the spelling might be a bit off)
I don't normally take pictures of my food. Jiekai is a bad influence. Foie gras tastes horrible - it has the texture of nutella left in the fridge, and a vaguely sour taste.

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Piperade (his) and special cassoulet aux manchons de canard (mine - background)
This was very hearty, even if a bit salty. Jiekai claims it's impossible to recreate in Singapore since you don't have the ingredients. I pronounced one phrase: "Cold Storage Gourmet". He's really just taken in by the mystique of the place - the best Chinese food is probably not found in China-proper.

The dinner the previous night was at "Le Jardin d'Ivy".
Addendum: This was the first night

When I revealed that I had a plausible answer to the question of why all women want to go to Paris, some suggested answers were:

- two words: louis vuitton~
- Because it's there. :P
- French kissing :p
- For me, it's because of the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay.

There's also shopping and the cliched romance bit, but I think what clinches the deal is how people are very free and open with displaying PDA - the couple french kissing at the top of the Eiffel Tower, for example. There's also the bit about how French women don't get fat despite enjoying good food and wine, so probably they want in on that secret as well, and imagine visiting the city will have some of the aura rub off on them.

A non-negligible number of people in Paris drive the cock car. This car looks really stupid and is driven by Inspector Clouseau in 2006's The Pink Panther - because he is a cock (more on this in the Vienna - IIRC - post). That is why I suggested that Jiekai get it.

The Paris metro has fold-up seats at the doors. This is good because when it gets crowded, people can just stand up and create more room in the cars.

The lines in the Paris metro have both colours and numbers. This is user-friendly, especially for tourists. It would help, though, if they had letters indicating direction as well.

Although most French either cannot, pretend not to or are reluctant to speak English, the signs can be roughly understood since the language is related to English. I wonder how people travel in countries which don't use the Roman alphabet and/or whose languages have little or no relation to English.

Thrice on the Metro, I saw staff setting up a roadblock and stopping people coming through and asking to see their tickets. Lots of people were getting tickets (of the other sort), so I guess the inspectors needed to fulfill their monthly quota. It can't be that easy to slip into the metro - the turnstiles are almost all located in front of manned ticket booths. I wondered what would happen if, on seeing the inspectors, I walked in the other direction.

Somehow, SAF boots (even the non-Goretex type) seem to be better for my feet than the black leather-esque shoes I wore on the trip. Weird. Maybe SAF leather "breathes". Or maybe I just never tied my laces tightly enough.

Some of the staff at the youth hostel where we stayed looked American, spoke English with an American accent and (here's the clincher) spoke English to each other. Maybe they migrated from America to start this business in Paris.

Jiekai tried the McDonalds near Versailles and he reported that contrary to expectations, McDonalds is not of uniform quality worldwide. French McDonalds serve higher quality food than others (and of course Malaysian ones serve substandard quality food). He said the bacon was juicy.

Cock files:

- "2100. Don't be late". In the end he came at 2136 because he got lost.
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