CHAPTER 3: PARIS ON (A FANCY FAIR)
When the Fair’s opening commenced, SAMA’s stand was finalized: each wall and corner was shining with raw material, genuine art and committed individuals. Last elements were added, recent finds among which, another wooden closet door (found the night before in front of a crappy Chinese diner) that Moste painted, or Vincent’s belongings. This first day was about press visiting and vernissage partying, the rest of the week would be about regular visitors.
In the blink of an eye, SAMA transformed into a gorgeous glittering web: our silky threads gushed all over the spot, the ground floor, the building, the district, the city, the country, the Europe, the whole world was a net, and we had won the right to be a part of it.
Little Théa, an old French friend of Anna, joined our team to capture the adventure with her accurate camera. César was permanently marching from the south to the north, checking on everything, taking care of everyone, crossing the alleys like if he was wearing some damned seven-leagued boots! The pitch got possessed by our crew spirit; suddenly the ball got started for real, and the event’s forces overwhelmed us as much as we overwhelmed them. Hell, weren’t we enchanting? Then here will be enchantment. Waltzing in a black long dress, shaking her magic dice stone, Anna made her incredible vigour shine all over the place, Moste summoned his little lovely devils out of their paper prison, Julia circled around to invite guests to join the party, and people were coming at them, craving for discovery.
This human deluge would last four days, it took our Paris squad away along a serial-encounters energy, making us feel like walking a labyrinth of portraits, a boundless source of exchanges. Passers-bys, artists, personalities and press, no matter what they were, an amazing contact dynamic was ignited.
That’s how we met, Sir Bruno D. a delicate and peculiar old collector, who felt in love with Moste Armenian shaman. Or Kouka, a rising French-Congolese street expressionist. The courteous security guards’ daywatch, found of soccer, curious of us. That’s how we met Agnès B., the famous Parisian fashion designer. The boat waiters, first buyers, adorable lovers, young Megan and Hendricks. Cute Cindy, a student reporter, whom warm words about our stand’s authenticity were touching. And Chanoir, the street artist spraying his famous flashy cats on Paris’ frontages. That’s also how we met Birgit C., a journalist who used to write for Le Monde, has a graffiti artist son, manages a publishing department and discussed a lot with us about Street Art social fibre. An enthusiastic mother-daughter duet, who confided they were feeling cosy on our pitch. Pure Evil, the Welsh pop-art/skate-culture-inspired printing artist. Hugo, a grey-stranded, tan-cheekboned polyvalent man, wise like a preacher and nutty like the Mad-Hatter, who spent an entire afternoon with us before buying two of Vincent’s photographs (for a price ten times higher than the initial one…).
Our stand had become an alive area, a vivid entity. Every day, new stuffs were appearing, to provide indefinite completion to the space. We hand-stuck more things on panels, hand-put down more things on the floor. Things we were finding by chance outside, arty leaflets, a tagged carton box of macarons, metro tickets, two activist posters and four anarchist tags pictures, the glazed closet door, bottle caps, and so on. But audience was participating in this evolution too, more that we could have ever thought, via elements’ addition or theft. On a graffiti level, we were extended through “legal tags” we asked for on the workshop scroll, “illegal tags” happening by surprise on our other walls. On a WTF level, book and condom stealing, pined business cards, torn posters, taped graphic patches and pencil sketches...
People shared with us, we were told a lot that our spot was unlikely and comfy, attractive and rough, punk and neat, human and artistic, fool and sincere. Some visitors were coming and coming back, sometimes several times, to draw, to dialogue, or just to hang out; we served as living-meeting-crafting-shopping HQ. We got ourselves drunk on passionate discussions, emphatic faces, and kindness trades. Some interesting debates came out: what is a museum? If museum means collection, what if the collection belongs to nobody? Is Street Art still Street Art if you lock it inside, if you have to pay to watch it? What is the future of Street Art? What is Urban Art in the end? Can new-technologies perpetuate it while keeping its true essence? For instance, are VR or AR able to resuscitate lost artworks? What is crypto-graffiti?
We were a f****** unicorn, lost in stud farm where all the other equines were glossy galleries. This fact was giving us a status of connector instead of making us their competitors, a warm introduction to the street movement’s roots, welcoming everybody with a tray of fresh strawberries. We were somewhere between starring and supporting role, just by being ourselves, and it filled our spines with joy and pride.
Our nudity glowed, bringing us victory in ways we didn’t expect.