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Postcards: Nørrebro (DK)

On our way from central Copenhagen to J’s place, we travelled past and overhead the S-Tog Ringline. On one side of the road, I noticed colourful structures and street art installation. Unfairly known as the ghetto, according to J, the neighbourhood had seen some riots in the past but the transformation that took place in recent years has brought it new prestige. J happily showed us around this multicultural and bright – and increasingly hipster-friendly – quarter.

Nørrebro

Nørrebro

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Project 365 – Week 49

It had been a good week. I finally completed my first MOOCs, after sitting through two exams this week, and there will be a couple more to come in the next fortnight. The weather took a turn for the sunnier side and I’ve been enjoying long walks whenever I could muster the time to. The Christmas shopping is more or less sorted. Swimming progress had been a little slow now that we’re working on correcting my techniques but otherwise it’s good to see some improvements, no matter how small. Of course, plenty of socialising time organised so I get to see people before we all leave for the Christmas break. As I said, a good week.

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Harps

2 Dec: These harps reminded me of Ireland, where it is a state symbol, used in official government correspondence, on the coins, coat of arms and more. It is also used as corporate logo for Guinness, just in the opposite orientation as those of official nature. When I first moved to Ireland, I had not realised the extent of use of the harp in govermental letters, so I was rather confused to see so many letters arriving to my aunt’s from “Guinness”. Took me a few days to figure it out that my aunt didn’t (and doesn’t) have vested interest in Guinness… ;)

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Postcards: The legacy of Georgetown (MY)

A single blog post is hardly going to be sufficient to tell the rich history and the many tangible heritage sides of Georgetown, and I would not even dare to try to write a succinct summary in fear of getting it wrong or short-changed it in any way.

Instead, I’ll let the photos take you through a simplied journey, of appreciating the kind of childhood that is familiar to my generation (and those that came before, for we played barefoot outside and wouldn’t think of sliding an icon on a touchscreen gadget), on looking at freeze frames harking back to the colonial time, or seeing how much we stand to lose if we do not preserve part of our roots.

Georgetown

Georgetown

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Project 365 – Week 44

It feels like we’ve suddenly plunged into winter this week. It started wet, then windy, followed by arctic chill for a couple of days, and back into wet and windy weekend. Not too much fun for my friend who was playing tourist in the city. And as if wet and windy in Paris was not bad enough, F and I headed up northwest to Brest to visit our friends at the weekend. Oh, gosh, it has been a long time since I was that soaked!

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Road sign

28 Oct: Here’s a fun fact: in Paris, while there are “no entry” sign aplenty, there is none of “stop”. Another fun fact: many of the “no entry” sign has been used as canvases for street art. I’ve started coming across “Kiss Kiss” (that’s my nickname for it) on a rather regular basis since my return from southeast Asia, so I wonder if this is the current batch of no-entry-art. Previous batches have been “The Handyman” (man carrying a bar), and “Witch Hunt” (man in the stocks).

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Project 365 – Week 43

A mostly grey week made me hanker for more sunshine, but as I was busy catching up with various course load from my online classes, among other things, time just flew by and before I knew it, we were packing our bag to go away for the weekend to attend a family event, and by the time we got back to Paris, my best friend was settling in into our apartment with a cup of hot chocolate and awaiting our return. Next few days will be busier than ever!

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59 rue de Rivoli

21 Oct: It is easy to walk down rue de Rivoli and identify the building that is today an art squat. I’ve photographed 59 rue de Rivoli for my previous Project 365, and it appears the exterior of the building is ever so lively! The changes made had been subtle, in terms of forms of the decor given the theme promoted by the artists in residence, but the materials used seem to be similar, mostly clothes and string-based. I like this new “kite-like” theme more than the old “pants-like” theme.

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Project 365 – Week 40

Final week of holiday and then we’re back in good ol’ Paris. We were lucky to not have suffered too much from jetlag when we flew out to Southeast Asia, courtesy of a 3-hours hotel room rental in KLIA to nap before we headed further south to Bali. We were all adjusted from Day 1 after arrival. Coming back, it’s different. We now find ourselves up at 5am and ready to sleep by 7pm. Good thing we have relatively flexible working hour, since it means starting our work day by a couple of hours earlier than usual (might as well) and therefore ending it slightly earlier too.

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Old Dutch fort

30 Sep: Many many years ago, my friends and I did a geographical survey of the area surrounding this former (reconstructed) Dutch fort, designed in the 17th century to store and to protect the abundant tin supplies in the state. I don’t remember what we wrote, but it was certainly back in an era when I was punching away at a typewriter so we would have a neatly written report. Spaces were left empty on certain pages so we could incorporate tables, charts and photographs. There were just no such thing as instant paragraph editing and constant play with format etc, so we really had to plan ahead on layout to make sure everything was good to go!

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Project 365 – Week 36

May I say just how much I am looking forward to my vacation? All things finalised, booked, printed and nitty-gritty details all updated to my TripIt app, I guess that means we are all set. The only thing that I know I won’t be able to realistically achieve is to schedule blog posts during my absence, so there’s going to be a whole lot of back-dated posts in the next few weeks…

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Afterworks

2 Sep: The first time someone suggested that we go to an “afterworks” I was rather confused, especially since the invitation was issued in French. The explanation that was given to me sounded like a Friday evening blowout party at a club, something not particularly my kind of thing, so I declined. For me, an outing after work is more aligned towards a group at a local pub where we can chill, have a drink or two, chit chat, and maybe then decide if to go on an impromptu dinner together or not. (I sound old and sooo not hip, isn’t it?)

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Project 365 – Week 31

This week, I discovered that being a translator is probably not a career alternative I should pursue. My friends, in the spirit of keeping things bilingual for their wedding, had asked me to help out with certain tasks (e.g. translating wedding ceremony programme, speeches), and working from English into French, oh dear… I am lucky I have other wonderful friends around me who helped to proofread my translations, and I also roped F into translating some particularly tricky texts. What would I do without them?

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Street art

29 Jul: This piece of street art reminds me of the sculpture of Le Passe-Muraille to commemorate Marcel Aymé that can be found in Montmartre. The main differences? This is on the other side of the wall, thus forming a continuation of sort to the sculpture, and this is a very modern take, for I don’t think hoodie fits into the setting of Aymé’s story. Disclaimer: I don’t know if the artist intended this as an echo to Le Passe-Muraille. Total speculation on my part.

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Project 365 – Week 30

I’m beginning to think every week is a crazy week somehow. It’s the same ol’ complaint: so much to do, so little time. Clearly I haven’t yet figure out how to stop the time-drain that I bemoaned about a fortnight ago… On a more positive note, I’m getting a couple of sightseeing days in Brittany next weekend when I’m in the region for my friends’ wedding. Frankly, I’m superstoked about the prospect of this getaway, even if it’s a very short one!

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Wall-E

22 Jul: Last year, thanks to a promo, I got myself an annual pass to the Disneyland Paris. However, after that one visit with my siblings – where I didn’t go on a single rollercoaster ride – I haven’t been back until now. My inner child certainly loved this day out, squeeing in joy, humming repetitive songs, and making impressions of Eeeeee-vaaaaa and Waaaaaall-Eeeeeee. I finally tried a few of the newer rides that were not there before from, I don’t know, 2004, when I last really ran around Disneyland from one ride to another. Crush’s Coaster in my new favourite ride ;)

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Project 365 – Week 21

A whirlwind week away can only be matched to a whirlwind week at home, right? Well, it may not look it but it certainly felt like it. As I set my to-do list for the next few days, and reviewed my calendar for the coming weeks, I realised things are liable to be crazier than ever. On the plus side, I manage to sneak in some reading time, which makes me pretty content at the same time.

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Fruit juices

20 May: I know, a photo taken at Marks & Spencer is hardly exciting but have a read at the labels of these bottles. Juices with red pepper or asparagus in them? We tested out the one with asparagus in it and it actually was quite nice. Granted, there wasn’t too much asparagus in it to start with, but enough to give a hint of the taste. Honestly though, I miss the food hall of M&S. There are a couple of them in Paris; the food section in the branch on Champs-Élysées is very limited and the other branch is a bit far in Levallois-Perret (actually outside of Paris), thus why I’ve not yet been there, but it does boast a much bigger food hall so maybe I should at least check it out once!

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Project 365 – Week 19

There’s a change in the pace of my personal life this week, and instead of slowing it down a notch to catch a breather, it got cranked up to include reasonable amount of travelling for a couple of weeks. We just came back from the region of Lorraine where we attended a wedding over the long weekend, just to unpack and repack today for a week in Ireland. All these travelling is going to test my resolution when it comes to this blog’s schedule – I have opted not to travel with a laptop and I’m not normally someone who plans post(s) in advance either. Guess I will have to learn the how-to now, stat!

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Parisian terrace

6 May: It is May but the sunshine pretty much comes and goes, its level measurable by the amount of people sitting at the cafe terraces for a drink or two. On a good day, it could be a real challenge scoring a table from an already tightly packed terrace, never mind the best effort afterwards not to wince when presented with the bill that appears to have packed in also a cost for the beaming sunlight onto your table. Often (just often, not all the time), it’s worth it though.

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Kisses in digital age

First year uni, freshers’ week. I still remember the flutters in my stomach the first time I received a text message from this cute guy I have just met the previous evening, signed off with “kisses”. A mere hour later, another guy I also met during the same social event, also attaching “kisses” to the end of his email. Surely I cannot suddenly be so popular for everyone to be sending kisses my way?

Kisses by Claire

Ah, the naïveté that was me in my youth, and on getting to know the charming “Latin-Europeans” – mainly French, Italian and Spanish – for the first time.

Little did I know, those kisses were merely equivalent to the air/cheek kisses I’ve been getting in greetings to say hello and goodbye, only in these cases, in written form. Had I received a message from a girl that ended with “kisses”, I probably would have think twice about its significance and not jump onto the “someone-had-a-crush-on-me?” bandwagon. The other shoe dropped when some of my new Latin-European friends, of both genders, concluded their text messages or emails with “kiss kiss”. Aaaahhh…

Embarrassing, right? Oh well, at least for a little while, I felt the thrill of the geeky girl who garnered the attention normally reserved for the homecoming queen ;)

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Day 326: Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche

Often, streets in Paris are named after who’s who in history, or famous landmarks adjacent to the streets, and the likes. Occasionally you do get whimsical names, like this one, a teeny small street off Quai St Michel – literally translated the street of the cat which fishes. While narrow, it is not quite Mårten Trotzigs gränd (in Stockholm) where I could walk along with my hands touching both walls of the street. Someone tall (over 1.8m) could manage this feat though.

I must have passed this street hundreds of time before I finally noticed it. With the souvenir shops lining the entrance to the street, it’s easy enough to ignore it. What amuses me is this mural of the infamous fishing cat! Granted, this piece of street art has since been defaced by addition of other elements, including this half-man with an umbrella (protecting the kitty?), breaking of the fishing rod and as far as I can see, no fish in sight. The kitty cat would have a long wait if it wants to be fed… ;)

Ps: talking of arts imitating name, here’s an interesting series of photographs depicting names of Paris metro stations by Janol Apin.

Day 291: Wine superiority

After last week’s confounding collage art by Tristan des Limbes, today’s piece found at Butte aux Cailles looks rather straight forward at the first glance. Or is it? Perhaps there is also multiple explanations to it, but I’m going with the most obvious.

I see this as an allegory of submitting oneself to the superiority of French wine. As good as made by the gods. But drinkers beware! Too much of it, and you’re slaving away to an addiction that will bring you down on your knees. For a substance to have control over you is never something positive.

Day 284: Au secours

This piece of street art is very intriguing. When I last walked past the junction between rue des Feuillantines and rue Pierre Nicole, it was in the summer. I didn’t see this collage then. But it was there this evening. Its creator goes by the name of Tristan des Limbes.

I can’t quite make out who is making this cry of help, nor the reason why. Is this a representation of mother earth crying out for help, or someone’s buried conscience, or something else? But I guess that’s makes art beautiful in its own right. It can have multiple interpretations, each to its observer, and still there is no need for just one answer. It may be A, it may be B. It may even be Z.

Day 277: Behind the curtain

If you ever wonder, if someone is spying on you from an abandoned building, then there is probably something there. Maybe not a person per se, but possibly a trompe-l’œil that somone is tracking you from behind a small curtain. I guess this can be spooky at night.

This building on rue de la Glacière is marked for tearing down and rebuilding. Cranes can be seen peeking through the metal barrier put up to prevent public wandering onto a building site. There is an air of neglect, which made this trompe-oeil even more striking. Can you feel the loneliness radiating from this boy behind his hiding place?

Day 245: Respect of…

… love, peace and nature.

I don’t know if it’s me paying way too much attention at random things, or if it just happens that there are a lot of notices posted on public poles lately. And most of them tend to run along the vein of massage service offered so please rip one of these phone number strips below. Yes, if you are wondering, there are people who take those numbers.

It is therefore refreshing to see a different kind of note. One with positive message of respect and tolerance, one designed to make you take a minute to reflect on its message. Perhaps it’s an aesthetique thing, but I like the representation that love transcends race. In this increasingly mobile and cosmopolitan world, relationships are certainly stretched beyond country and cultural boundary. Such transformation can only enhance our lives and the way we see the world and its people. I’d say, keep it up!

Day 244: Picasso, painted

At the junction between rue de Haudriettes and rue des Archives sits a mural called La femme, lumière de l’homme. Painted by Combas in hommage of the great Cubic master, Picasso, who called Paris his home for many year, where he lived, painted and sculpted in Montmartre. In fact, not very far from where this spot itself – less than 5 minutes walk – is Musée Picasso, where thousands of his works (plus his private collection) make up the exhibition collection.

This photo above is but about 1/3 of the entire mural.The very top panel was a reminder of how Montmartre and Paris used to be, and the middle panel, the name of the painting reflected is at the tip of my tongue yet somehow I couldn’t just spew a name and get it right. It’ll come back to me some time. Meanwhile, spot the amusing tiled floor of this picture.

Day 242: Bedazzled Invader

Pixel art is fun, pixel art in bedazzled tiles is even more entertaining.

Spotted on a wall somewhere in the Marais (I cannot for the life of me recall the street name right now), this space invader is sitting pretty with coloured alien antennae (note the matching colour scheme) and a special one that sparkles and dazzles. Is there extra point for zapping the alien via that particular antenna? ;)

As a child, growing up, my first memories of computer/video games are of Mario Bros (ah the days of game cartridges and square Nintendo box), Space Invaders (black 8″ floppy disks!), Pacmac and Pinballs (giant machines at the arcade, anyone?) but somehow I seem to have outgrown them quicker than I’d anticipated. Nowadays it’s all nostalgia and reminiscing the past, and me unable to play wii without embarassing myself.

Day 227: J’attends…

… l’orage au désespoir.

The poor penguin, lamenting that [it is] waiting for the storm in despair. Is it heartbroken? Or just feeling a bit blue because of the crappy weather? Or a combination of both? Fear not, it doesn’t reflect how I am currently feeling. In fact, we’ve been blessed with a sunny bank holiday Monday, which is promptly celebrated with a trip to Pozzetto for a spot of ice cream and playing spectator at a tango session at Quai de Seine.

And on a side note: I’ve put in place a few small changes in recent weeks to the site. They’re not by any mean complete but at least good starting points, I guess.
– lists for my Big Read Challenge of 2010 and 2011
– tracker on the progress of Challenge Resto A-Z
– the pages above summarised under Coffee Break
– subtle updates to The Ultimate Travel Challenge

I have a couple other things planned (as per friends’ suggestions) that I don’t yet have time to look into, but should I do, I will let you know where to access them. But first, I need to figure out how these would fit in the framework of this site, then how best to present them. Sorry if it all sounds a bit cryptic but I haven’t think through them just yet, so I myself don’t know how it’ll morph into the final presentable state.

Day 221: Bone-y drains (and Project Inside Out)

Street arts in Paris are not strictly-wall endeavours. As you can see, footpath is as good a canvas as a blank wall. Not only that, it can be smartly done to incorporate objects present including a drain cover. The grille as rib cage of spray-on skeleton, why not?

And speaking of street art, the artist JR is currently in collaboration with Centre Georges Pompidou to encourage everyone to take part in becoming an art movement. Have your picture taken, printed to a poster size, and you’re then to put it somewhere public as part of the Project Inside Out. Pretty cool idea if you’re open to having your face publicly admired ;)

Day 215: Il faut se méfier des mots

“One must be wary of words.”

As warning goes, it is not too far wrong from the truth. We often forget how powerful words can be. One careless word, one inconsiderate phrase, that’s all it takes to hurt someone and cut deeply. The scar invisible, yet nonetheless there. Turn to another facet, however, words are all powerful, inspiring and motivational. These have healing power, to lift one’s spirit up. And empty promises, these are perhaps the most damaging of all. They break trust and create wariness.

This 3D installation by Ben Vautier is set up high on a building at place Fréhel, at the intersection between rue de Belleville and rue Julien Lacroix (en route to my favourite Thai restaurant, Krung Thep). It depicts two puppet-workmen who are busy setting up this chalkboard, all oh so casually. For anyone seeing this for the first time, it’s easy to do a double-take, wondering who are up there working on putting this notice board on.

Day 210: Mr Chat

Mr Chat!

I’ve walked rue Bonaparte quite regularly, thanks to the presence of a number of delicious shops along the street, but tonight, for the first time, I spotted this Mr Chat. Of course I don’t see it during the day, since it’s hidden within the shutters of this shop, lowered only after close of business.

I particularly like it that Mr Chat is so happy, reading away his time. I’m not unlike him actually. Have I told you how book-buying happy I’ve become lately? I’d say, by now, if I am to move, I would need at least 2 boxes for the books that I’ve acquired. And I’ve only live here for a few months. I think this habit is just going to get worse with time, but in a good way, right? I mean, it’s books, and it’s about reading. Surely it can’t be bad… ;)

Day 209: So alone…

The risk of dreaming is loneliness? At least that the hypothesis postulated by Aerosol in this art-graffiti wall of his.

Dream is a two-edge sword. On one hand, we could not not dream. To not have dreams is to live a monotonous existence, without anything to look forward to and nor something to aspire for. At the same time, to dream also means to put ourselves in a state of fantasy, imagining something that we may put too much hope on, and hurtful when it’s misguided.

What we should aim for is a balance between the two. Afterall, isn’t much of our lives about balance in one way or another? Too much of something is bad enough, too much of nothing is just as tough. However, I don’t see loneliness in either scheme of dream. Am I missing some obvious link?

Day 170: Come to Daddy!

There is a particular humour to this rather basic graffiti found at Bassin de la Villette. “Come to daddy!” says the monster with an evil and gleeful grin. The phantom-y cat knows something’s up and and couldn’t try to escape quickly enough!

It is Father’s Day today, and it is a rather poignant day for me. I do not remember any celebration that I may had had with my late father, and at home, it was more of a day where we celebrated it with granddad. However he is no longer with us for another celebration. As I walk the streets of Paris, I’m reminded of us planning a trip for him to visit me here after my move but time ran out on us.

Anyway, sorry for the change of mood. Back to happy. Think happy thoughts. Think Happy Father’s Day. Think happy memories :)

Day 159: Make love or war?

After a series of non-street art photos, you’re getting mural works two days in a row. Not only that, they can be found on adjacent streets. Am I slacking, by going back to the same place for my photos? Maybe. However, with things hopping busy on my end, time is a bit on the premium. Plus, I like this mural. I was debating with myself yesterday, at the junction between the streets, on which mural I should photograph.

I like that the setting is edgy. A Keith-Haring-like background, laced with additional graffiti, they serve to emphasis the rather aggressive passion between the couple. It’s, errrm, animalistic? In my head, I was humming to Savage Garden’s The Animal Song. Of course, on the other side, a reminiscent of a classic pose by Robert De Niro. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” (If you haven’t guess it – it’s a scene from Taxi Driver.)

Together, it’s as if a reflection on human psyche living in a big city. Your relationship may burn fast and hard but also short-lived, while a sense of impatience and frustration bubbles underneath, ready to take one’s emotion over to spill. There’s always turmoil aplenty, running circular like an infinite loop. Does taking ourself out from urban living help us to find the balance within? That is the million dollar question.

Day 158: Have a cold one

Tucked in one of the smaller streets behind Port Royal is this creative piece of street arts, which incorporates mural painting to exposed brick façade, along with fake wine leaves snaking around the edges. As a result, my brain is running away with the image of a hot day in the Caribbean where one grabs a cold drink and sit out to watch the world goes by.

In the mean time, the weather in Paris continues to be dull for most part and rather chilly too in the evening. I may have to pull out my little fleece throw from storage so I can be snuggly wrapped up when I sit in my apartment to read. I am just starting to read Harry Potter in French and it’s taking me quite some effort since I don’t always have the vocabulary to understand everything, and the name changes are confusing. For example, Hogwarts has been rechristened Poulards, muggles are somehow Moldus, and even Snape is now Rogue apparently. One word – confusing!

Day 131: Roooaarrrr!

You’ve seen me posted entries of various street arts and mural paintings of Paris. Here’s another creative one – which is used to not only decorate the wall but also to frame the elements of the building, i.e. windows and doors. Pretty good job for a building that seems to be in need of major restorative works.

While I find the roar of the animal amusing, the picture is still slightly disturbing. It’s the body. I can’t wrap my imagination around it and no matter how I look it over, it still feels all wrong. Not my kind of art perhaps. If you want to see this for yourself, head over to rue Neuve Tolbiac, near Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand.

Day 122: Tip a hat

One thing that you may have noticed by now, is that street art is never just something born out of vandalism. Especially in Paris. Some are works to reclaim the public space for expression of art, some are works to put out a message – political or not – to the public, some are works to provide food for thoughts, some are works to beautify the living space.

This mural which covers the entire side of a building can be found near Gare du Nord (I forgot to mark down the name of the street, but I believe it’s at the fork of rue La Fayette and rue de l’Aqueduc) is striking to me for a couple of reasons. First, the representation of Paris. Just try to see how many monuments you could identify. From the obvious (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Obelisk of Luxor) to the nestled and ambiguous (Assemblée Nationale, the pyramid of the Louvre, Panthéon). Secondly, the depiction of Parisian life and history, all in man’s memory, and you’re just there, at the tiny corner, looking up to all that has come together in this city.

Painted in 1992 (clearly marked) this mural of nearly two decade old still holds true today. Paris is dynamic and ever changing, but the core value within, they are contained and unforgettable.

Day 102: Fameux ce saucisson?

Something happened today that left me fuming, and to clear my head I decided to take a random bus in the city and see where it takes me. Perfectly reasonable strategy too to see more of Paris that I would not otherwise be familiar wth.

As soon as I spotted this mural on rue Oberkampf (near the junction to rue St Maur), I rang for the bell and got off so I can check it out. It’s a curious work that’s still ongoing, with students from Cergy and Havre working on the piece in collaboration with L’Association le M.U.R. (Have a look in larger size)

There’s a mixed message on it right now, with strange faint writing (that makes the title of today’s entry), naughty gnomes, McDo etc. I’m not quite sure what’s intended for the final picture or if someone has tampered with this. The artists were packing up their materials when I was there, but since I lost my voice today, I couldn’t really talk to them.

It seems from the association website that the artworks on this mural wall changes every couple of weeks, and this one will be there until 18 April 2011. Only 6 more days to catch it.


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