Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Paris

Guest blogger Janna Singer-Baefsky is a Smith College student, class of 2015, majoring in Art History with a Museums Concentration. She is a Student Assistant in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

Moyra Davey. Canadian (1958 - ). Untitled from 16 Photographs from  Paris, 2009. Folded digital c-print with paper and cellophane tape, postage, and ink. Purchased with the Dorothy C. Miller, class of 1925, Fund. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:19-4

When I was eleven, my parents took our family to Paris. The excitement was palpable; other than the occasional trip to Toronto to visit family, I had never flown this far before. I did not know what to expect. Would it be the romanticized world of baguettes, cheese, and art that I had dreamed about or would my imagination let me down? From the moment I stepped off the plane, Paris did not disappoint. She was everything I had dreamed about and more. This was a city alive – everyone was going somewhere, doing something. Paris was the first city I fell in love with. When we boarded the plane to go home, it was pouring rain. It was a sign that Paris was going to miss me as much as I was going to miss her – I promised myself I would go back.

About ten years later, I boarded a plane in Heathrow. Destination: Charles de Gaulle Airport. My best friend from high school was studying in Paris while I was studying in Oxford. It would be a reunion with both my loves.

I began my first day in the Louvre and ended it in the Musée d’Orsay café, sipping a small cup of coffee. When I look at Moyra Davey’sUntitled from 16 Photographs from Paris, I am brought right back to that moment. I can smell the faint mixture of cigarettes and floral perfumes. I can hear the conversations of couples, tourists, and school children. I can taste the rich, bitter, perfectly brewed cup of coffee.

The composition is simple and elegant, much like the city. The cup and spoon are in focus and everything else – the open sugar packet, the table top – are blurred into the background. To me, it is a metaphor for the singular moment of consumption, when all the troubles and stress of the day also fade into the background as one stops to enjoy a simple cup of coffee.  This photograph captures what is, perhaps, the most beautiful thing about Paris. It is an environment conducive to pausing, reflecting, and enjoying life’s most basic pleasures.

I now make a habit of enjoying a cup of tea or coffee every day to give myself a necessary moment to pause. It is something I had forgotten to do for many years until I was reminded by an afternoon in a café and an unassuming photograph. I have fallen in and out of love with many cities over the years, but I’ll always have Paris.

Comments

Dr. Stanley Workman - 18/02/2015

Cleveland, America's Paris

Check out the Cleveland artist being hailed as the daVinci of this, the digital age, Marc Breed. Creator of the psychedelic peace symbol, male exotic dance pioneer, filmmaker to two of the highest grossing adult films of all-time, civil and first amendment rights advocate, and if that weren't enough, he readily admits to having escaped from one of America's most secure prisons (his golem remains in the prisons archive).And to boot, he has a testedI.Q. Of 152

Renee - 09/12/2014

Paris...

Thank you, Janna! Beautifully done.

Zak - 09/12/2014

Interesting Post!

thoughtful post, thanks!

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