Nous serons ouverts après la revolution ! or "The absence of the things"
Eva-Maria Lopez

 

Nous serons ouvert aprés la revolution! or “The absence of things”

In the silence of the night – an expedition through the rue Saint-Honoré after the protest demonstration„acte IV“ 08. December 2018 and the morning after in the „Triangle d'Or“.

Shopping, at the moment better online. Also recommended by a company, a least the wrapping paper covering the display is Christmas red. During my ramble on this Saturday evening in the almost deserted street, Rue Saint-Honoré, everything can be found behind the windows: brown kraft paper, white wrapping paper, old cardboards or posters, neatly arranged and even DIY quasi as an involuntary decoration, everything, but hardly anything Christmaslike.

Even, the obligatorily Parisian red Christmas trees prefer to stay indoors, like at the restaurant opposite of the barred Palais Royal, just as the cat does.

Outside the topic is chip board in different variations, mostly the typical light brown; wafer board or noble black. A lot of the up-market stores already have the mass customized chip board on stock, for New Years Eve or Football Cup events. But for this advent, they're mounted every Friday evening and dismantled Sunday mornings, amounting to 700 m² per label.

The street on this evening is dark, the glamour seems like fading out. Some dispersed gilets jaunes (yellow vests), probably looking for an unlikely open metro-station, given that the heart of Paris is widely shut down.
A bizarre atmosphere is spreading. Chip boards mounted on
those nice historical facades - appear as architecture of its own. Some resemble those from a model making workshop, others are like sculptures in public spaces. The situation of the nearly deserted road is developing its own atmosphere, which attracts me.

Light shining through the cracks of the boards and through tossed out paper – creates unusual and yet aesthetic structures. The empty vitrines and sockets out of marble, metal or glass appear to be art sculptures in a gallery. Involuntarily, it reminds me of the warehouses in Havana 20 years ago without anything to sell ..

There is only one designer, showing courageously her fashion and stayed unharmed. The others have protected themselves behind the boards, sometimes comments on, ironical “We look like a wine box, but we are open” or “bonne manifestation a tous” (we wish all a good demonstration). Small shops appeal to forbearance, because they don't have any glass insurance. Sporadically, some yellow vests are on the display, probably as proof of solidarity?

The most expressive comment to me is: “Nous serons ouverts apres la revolution !” Prior to that it said: We will be open this Sunday 11.00 am, then stroked out and replaced by hand with “after the revolution”.

Only one store has actually been broken into in rue Saint-Honoré, the entry is half open. Thesmashed glass pane first appears like carpet. The next morning, this same scene, is supplemented by security and insurance men. Discussing about the case stands. Alongside, a drained cleaning lady, sitting on a re-erected chair.

A few houses next to it, a group of young people, ready for the Saturday night life, bringing with their chatter a kind of regular life back into the street. One starts posing beneath the graffiti “ Vive le vent, vive le vent, vive le vandalisme” which is an adaptation of the French version of the Christmas song “Jingle Bells” … This nearly poetic situation is framed by a scooter from the left and a shadow of a quite meaningless traffic light on the right.

Place Vendome has become a refugium for the CRS (Republican Security Companies), the general reserve of the French national police. Place where to eat sandwiches during the night watch. Like an allusive sign the advertisement for a wrist watch above the deserted place. Two giant artificial Christmas trees in front of the Trajan’s Column appear like silent guards. Something is missing – ah, yes, the fairy lights are off.

Chinese tourists are passing by in a hurry and are taking snap shots of the anonymous shops. Two men are pulling their trolleys with white slip covers (fitting to the Arrondissement). Everybody is allowed to pass the check point, except for some French people, obviously of African origin, and after a strict control they are allowed to go on as well.

Next to a barrier, a poster for the exhibition “Un Barbare à Paris” (A Barbarian in Paris), is showing an artist in his studio surrounded by chip boards, it's like a slapstick to me.

Also slogans like “Joy” (Dior) get a different meaning. In this situation, it seems as if joy was over, at least for that Christmas season. Others, as in the case of Chanel's, have been changed after “Acte IV” demonstration: “un parfum de victoire” (a perfume of victory). Next to a pharmacy, there is written “colère” (anger), but I doubt whether there is some medicine for it.

On my way back home, I step into one of the rare open bars, a German couple telling me, they stayed all day long in the hotel, the weekend trip to Paris was a gift from their children - unfortunately they hadn't watched the news in Germany before..

Saturday night a heavy storm is blowing through the Parisian streets, but can't drown out the sirens. TV channels showing the same scenes of the manifestation at Champs-Elysées over and over again. A totally different view than the reality I've seen tonight. It's encouraging me, to go ahead with my camera the next day. I'm drawn to looking behind all that, the leftovers, catching the energy which is in the streets after the demonstration. Wondering, how does the absence of things matter to me. I'm so used to the crowed, the advertising, the lights and the glitter, that it's difficult to imagine anything else.

I discovered too today a new graffiti in other places “Jesus sauve (Jesus saves)”, it replaced the nice “Amour” (love) of this autumn; will see – President Macron is going to make a speech on Monday.

The day after

Sunday morning on my way to the golden triangle, I can't believe my eyes, yellow vests in the Seine! Actually it's an annual event, a standing-up paddling race to the Eiffel tower.

A lot of white vans instead of black limousines are parked in front of the shops of Avenue Montaigne. The hint of real life, due to the extraordinary situation in this 600 m luxury paved road. Cordless screw driver are humming. The chip boards are dismantled, back to the storage until the next mission. The way, men carrying the boards away remind me of the TV scenes from last night’s demonstration.

The only thing which is glittering - on this second advents Sunday morning in the English style front gardens of the “triangle d'or” – are piles of counter-sunk screws, carefully saved for another use the next Friday. Inside the cleaning teams, decorators are replacing the store display.

There is not much damage this time. Only in one shop the morning sun is reflected in a cracked window pane. By the way, the street is named after the French moralist and philosopher Michel de Montaigne, and before it was known as the path through vegetable gardens outside of Paris, for widows looking for a gallant amusement.

At the Champs Elysee first tourists for shopping are around. Some stores are still barricaded, but doors already open. A bit weird, going into a shop without a name, something that has never happened here before.

Entering the Rue Saint-Honoré – everything looks already quite restored, some shop windows are still empty, hopefully they won't make a mistake when taking back the jewels. In another window two decorators wearing a T-shirt with that meaningful slogan “Dream Tomorrow” while dressing up a mannequin. Not far away in a shop, a Lady with a funny hat is wearing a yellow vest! It must be a misunderstanding. Maybe she thinks it's – en vogue??

Some cafes are open, but there are not many clients. A few flâneurs passing by, which is probably not solely due to the pouring rain. A bar tender is filling up champagne buckets with ice, behind the bar, tints of caviar, ready for a very special hang-over breakfast.

I rather prefer a double espresso to warm up again. On my way home, in a side street just around the corner, I found the prefect slogan to finish my photo series: “strange nights” !
They're not over yet.