public words at saint blaise | Paris 2007

“Mots publics” (“public words”) was an extra muros programme of artistic action focusing on the Library of Saint Blaise in Paris.

It took place at the foot of Paris’s densest housing estate. For the first year, “mots publics” (“public words”) displayed its forms in the urban space. Light features found their way into the daily life of the neighborhood, while large format works gradually sprouted on its walls and windows. A book of literary texts on “the art of getting lost in the city”, inspired by Walter Benjamin and compiled by Christine Rodès, circulated in the neighborhood, and was gradually relayed by the words of the inhabitants, taking part in a writing workshop with the author Véronique Laupin. In October 2007, the final reinstatement of Saint Blaise transformed a square of buildings into an amphitheater. In the Place du Mail, prompters whispered. An arrangement of three moveable screens created a shadow theatre, with inhabitants offering it their silhouettes. In the square, the public was in the balcony, the prompters rose up in gondolas, pierced the walls with their nightingales, to pour forth their utterances through the windows. Reaching the tops of the buildings, a huge “snow of words” was spread over the amphitheater through 4o to 5o windows all in cahoots. All the evocations of this “going astray in the city”, authored by the inhabitants, rose cloud-like in the amphitheater of the Square des Cardeurs. The rustling of leaves was interspersed with the happy cries of children and … grown-ups.

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