February 4, 2015

From the Bronx to Paris' metro station

A few months ago some photographs exposed in a metro station caught my attention. I thought: "Trust the French to plaster culture wherever they possibly can." It is in fact a cultural programme invitation by the RATP (Paris transportation services) to give passengers the opportunity to discover original artistic works within its transport areas.

"Sometimes I feel like the world is a place I bought a ticket to."

Walking through the underground tunnels connecting the various Paris metros, is like reading the cultural section in a newspaper. Not only will you find Department stores, holiday destinations and dating sites advertised - these are always nicer to look at than the odd car ads - you'll also find billboards for theatres, exhibitions, shows and special events. Many a time I come home to buy a ticket online after having seen the advertisement in the metro.

This is how I came across Garry Winogrand's exhibit in the Jeu de Paume, an arts centre for modern and postmodern photography and media I have been meaning to visit since my arrival in Paris. It is located in the north corner of the Tuileries Gardens. Did you know that the Jeu de Paume was used from 1940 to 1944 to store Nazi plunder looted by the regime's Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce in France?

Anyway, back to Garry (1928–1984), a great American photographer, who chronicled America in the post-war years. Winogrand is still relatively unknown because he left his work unfinished at the time of his death, but he is unquestionably one of the masters of American street photography. Dying suddenly at the age of fifty-six, he left behind approximately 6,500 rolls of film (some 250,000 images) that he had never seen, as well as proof sheets from his earlier years that he had marked but never printed. Roughly half of the photographs in the exhibition have never been exhibited or published until now; over 100 have never before been printed.

My absolute favourite photo was the one below. If only pictures could talk, this shot would speak volumes!

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