Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine, v. IX

Poetic Therapy and Non-Virtual Art

May 13, 2020By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture
“Soldier of Love” (2020), a work in embroidered silk by Billie Zangewa. Courtesy Galerie Templon.
“Soldier of Love” (2020), a work in embroidered silk by Billie Zangewa. Courtesy Galerie Templon.

Here’s something we all need in these stressful times: poetic “therapy.” The Troupe de l’Imaginaire has been offering its “poetic consultations” for free by telephone during lockdown through the site of the Théâtre de la Ville. Anyone can sign up to receive a telephone call from one of its actors on a given day. After a short chat to get to know the person a bit, the actor chooses a poem to read to the callee. Click here to watch a video showing live pre-coronavirus “Poetic Consultations.” Sign up here to receive a call on May 23 or May 30. Consultations are now available in English and a variety of other languages as actors from around the world join in on the fun.

The strict confinement (quarantine) came to an end in France on Monday, May 11, but life in Paris will not return to normal for some time. Gatherings of more than 10 people are not yet allowed, which means that large museums like the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou, movie theaters, stadiums, etc. have not yet reopened. A decision will be made on the reopening of restaurants on June 2.

Cultural life is reviving, however, since small museums and galleries are allowed to open their doors as long as they restrict the number of visitors at a given time, enforce social distancing and provide masks for employees and hand sanitizer for everyone. If you plan to visit, make sure you have a mask with you, as they are currently required for everyone in the Métro and may be requested by the establishment for visitors.

View of the Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre Colle in June 1933. Photo Man Ray, Archives of the Fondation Giacometti, Paris
View of the Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre Colle in June 1933. Photo Man Ray, Archives of the Fondation Giacometti, Paris

The Institut Giacometti, which will open on Friday, May 15, is prolonging its exhibition “À la Recherche des Œuvres Disparues” (“In Search of Lost Works”) through June 21. Its hours will initially be restricted to Thursday,  11am-5pm, and tickets must be purchased in advance online (a good idea for every museum these days).

The Beuchet chair illusion demonstrated at the Museum of Illusions.
The Beuchet chair illusion demonstrated at the Museum of Illusions.

The brand-new Musee de l’Illusion, which opened on Monday, is full of exhibits designed to trick the senses – optical illusions, holograms, a vortex tunnel, an infinity room, etc. – but scientific explanations for each deception are also provided. Its Smart Playroom is stocked with brain-teasing games and puzzles.

If all goes well, other museums should start to open in June and July. In the meantime, art galleries have been quick to reopen. Galerie Daniel Templon, for example, is continuing Billie Zangewa’s show “Soldier of Love” (see image at the top of this page) through June 6, at its Rue Beaubourg location and the works of Norbert Bisky in “Desmadre Berlin” through May 23 on Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare.

George Whitman (1913 – 2011) in front of his bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, with his daughter Sylvia, who now runs the shop.
George Whitman (1913 – 2011) in front of his bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, with his daughter Sylvia, who now runs the shop. Photo © Deborah Hayden

Shops of all sorts also reopened this week with coronavirus precautions in place, and book lovers will be thrilled to return to browsing in person (it’s just not the same online). The famed Shakespeare and Company on the Left Bank has reopened with slightly revised hours. Those who fear unexpected encounters with virus-laden droplets can order online and pick up their books without entering the store. And, I just learned that the shop produces podcasts with authors like Jonathan Coe and Jeanette Winterson as well, available on its website and from the usual sources.

Now that lockdown is officially over – at least partially – this video, “Paris Confiné 2020–Lockdown Paris,” made over a period of 25 days by Skydrone Film–Futuria Production with the help of drones, serves as a poignant souvenir of an unprecedented moment in the history of Paris.

In case you missed previous weeks’ “Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine” (French brain teasers, free films, audiobooks, art, music, comedy, SOS Help hotline, and more) read them here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

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