Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine, v. VI

Flowers for Earth Day, At-Home Ballet, French Music Festival

April 22, 2020By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture
Clématite Nancy. Watercolor by Francis Hallé.
Clématite Nancy. Watercolor by Francis Hallé.

 Today is Earth Day. While Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future has made a video with a strong message called “House on Fire,” the French and Québecois Jour de la Terre and the city of Nancy have joined forces to create something practical: a new easy-care climbing clematis with fuchsia-colored flowers to encourage people to green their building facades. It won’t be available until the fall, but can be preordered here for €22.91 (3-liter pot).

So many events, major and minor, will be canceled this year, but organizers are scrambling to create online versions of them. The popular 44-year-old music festival Printemps de Bourges, which was to have started yesterday, is one of them. The festival has asked the stars on the line-up – among them Alain Souchon, Catherine Ringer, Jeanne Cherhal, Jeanne Added, Philippe Katerine, La Grande Sophie, Yaël Naïm and Ayo – to contribute a videotaped performance for an “imaginary” festival. Runs through April 26, 2020.

Image from the Centre Pompidou’s video game, Prisme7.
Image from the Centre Pompidou’s video game, Prisme7.

This Friday, April 24, 2020, the Centre Pompidou will launch its first video game, Prisme7, online. In May, it will be made available for free in English and French on IOS and Android and on PC or Mac. Suitable for anyone aged 12 and up, it allows players to interact in a “fun, educational” way with major works from its collection and with the building’s famous “inside-out” architecture by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.

The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme has produced a video in which French rocker Catherine Ringer, of the legendary group Les Rita Mitsouko, pays homage to her father, Sam Ringer, an artist and Polish Jew who spent a good part of his youth in Nazi concentration camps. Among other things, she talks about his influence on her music, in which a joyous beat gets everyone dancing at French parties to what are often tragic lyrics: “Marcia Baïla,” for example, about a dancer who is dying of cancer, or “Le Petit Train,” about the trains to the Nazi death camps.

The Louvre has put together a slide show of 20 artworks and objects from its collection relating to food, with everything from a relief depicting Egyptian Princess Nefertiabet before her lavish dinner in the afterlife to an 18th-century coffee grinder. Click on the images lower down on the page for detailed descriptions in English.

For those with good French, the Louvre also has some excellent MOOCs, notably “L’Instant Figé,” about capturing movement in art. The camera spends a bit too much time focused on the curator giving the talk and not enough on the artworks being discussed, but you will still find this series of talks instructive.

Scene from the at-home video made by dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet.
Scene from the at-home video made by dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet.

For some real-life movement, the dancers of the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris dance their hearts out from their homes to yours in this uplifting video directed by filmmaker Cédric Klapisch. 

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


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