TOWARDS "A NEW CHURCH"
TOWARDS "A NEW FRENCH REVOLUTION"
Exactly at the same time when we were writing the invitational texts below, too related "coincidencies" took place:
1) Exactly on the day when we were sending out our Call for Entries for PARIS REDUX, quoting (see below) the painting of Delacroix representing Liberty, a young woman in France, at the Louvre-Lens Museum, defaced this very painting by inscribing on it: AE911.
2) A few days later, exactly when the distorted image of The Notre Dame Cathedral above was created, Pope Benedict XVIth announced his resignation.
We find the conjunction and coincidence, not to say synchronicity of these events, worth thinking of and contemplating!
It seems that indeed both THE SACRED and THE PROFANE are in great need of rejuvenation.
And maybe it is not just a speculation to refer in this context to that "Point Zero" inscribed on the pavement of the square in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Maybe indeed we, as a world, need to start again, both in our human life, here on the earth, and in our spiritual life.
We feel that the "accident" in the Louvre-Lens Museum could have a meaning, since the frontier that sometimes separates a true "seer" from "une desequilibree" could indeed be very thin ... and we also feel that what some called "the murky legacy of Pope Benedict" could refer to hidden realities within the spiritual life of more than a billion people on this earth that might not be so spiritual after all.
We submit the image above to you in order to stimulate you and to provoke you.
You could dismiss it as a mere formal manipulation done so very easily with Photoshop, or you could reflect on its possible meanings.
We feel that every place on this earth could be a potential "point zero."
But we do have to start from somewhere.
It could be from the center, or from the periphery, or from both,
What you see below is an invitation to start from the center.
Paris might not be the center of the world any longer, but no one can deny its importance.
To think again, now, of The Cathedral of Notre Dame and of The French Revolution is to think about two essential guiding marks of human history. And maybe not only "history."
We invite you to reflection.
And to ACTION.
"Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable." Charles Baudelaire
This year Paris, France and the world celebrate all year long 850 years since the construction of the famous Notre Dame cathedral began... 850 years...!!!
This is a long time.
And we know that back then the technology of construction was unable to cheat on time... then, 850 years ago, those brave men and women began a difficult, a very difficult and complex task... to build a great cathedral.
But what they lacked in terms of technical means, they more than made up in terms of faith.
To build such a cathedral you need faith.
Without it, technology cannot do anything.
Reading about this great cathedral, we learned that it actually looked much more different than today... we actually believe it was more joyous, yes, more joyous, although probably born from pain... that joy we are not sure is still there, regardless the countless digital cameras that hungrily try to take a piece of this great cathedral with them.
Another important event will happen next year, when Paris, and France and the world will celebrate 225 years since the start of the French Revolution.
While the two events seem unrelated, when we read that during the French Revolution, in 1792, in some places within the Notre Dame Cathedral representations of Mary were replaced with representations of Marianne, we wonder... doesn't there seem to be, somehow, a relation between what happened 850 years ago and what happened 225 years ago...?!?
Interestingly, in both cases a woman is involved, that is, OUR LADY and Marianne.
Marianne is less known than OUR LADY, yet, what she symbolizes is certainly not less important: FREEDOM.
And we might even say, FREEDOM FROM RELIGION, that is, from Dogmatic Religion, the one the is not really concerned about freedom and love, but about control and fear.
We believe both OUR LADY and MARIANNE are very important... The Sacred and the Profane, if we are to use the title of a book by Mircea Eliade.
Strangely, and we seem to contradict ourselves, but this is only an appearance, we feel we need at the same time A MORE INTENSE SPIRITUAL LONGING and A MORE INTENSE RECOGNITION OF WHAT MARIANNE SYMBOLIZES.
And since we believe architecture can at least TRY to better life, what is commonly known as "changing the world" (illusory as it very often is), we invite you to submit your proposals to enliven Paris and France and the world through on one hand a more vivid Notre Dame and on the other to propose some kind of structure to celebrate and honor Marianne.
This is a one year long event, and we accept your work until December 31st, 2013.
We plan to create two books and send them to both the Archidiocese of Paris and to the City Hall of Paris, for their consideration.
We believe we couild thus contrubute to an intensification of life, at all levels, not just for Paris, not just for France, but for the whole world.
Please read below the three texts we wrote regarding this important event.
SOME WORK FOR NOTRE DAME DE PARIS
Oh... the desecration of restoration...
Of a certain kind of restoration...
With all due respect for Viollet-le-Duc, whose Dictionnaire F. L. Wright considered the only architecture book worth introducing to his son and the only one worth reading, we feel that somehow his work at Notre Dame has some flaws.
And the restorative work done in the 90s wronged the celebrated cathedral further.
It is further and further less "Gothic" we feel... all cleaned-up as it is.
In a funny way, it actually might have been Le Corbusier who encouraged this cosmetic "embellishment" of the cathedral, with his longing for that time when the cathedrals "were white"...
Is stone so very often white...?
Maybe we should long for that time when the stone was gray, that is, BEFORE the cathedrals "were white"...
But a "white cathedral" is almost a contradiction in terms... that is, a hygienized cathedral, a "clean cathedral."
If we love the Gothic, and we do, we feel that it is NOT "clean" at all, that is, it is "dark" both physically and metaphorically.
We feel the "new" Notre Dame is made for tourists now, with a placid cleaned-up facade that aesthetically seems somehow less genuine than the spire behind it, that was built in the XIXth century... that spire seems truer than the main facade, as it is now.
Plus, the two bell towers, deprived of their spires, denote a bulky cartesianism that might be French, but not Gothic.
A "Cartesian Cathedral"...?!?!?
This is an impossibility!
We feel this cathedral is not quite telling the truth.
Sorry to sound unacceptably derogatory, but it is a little hard to avoid thinking of a rather not very expensive birthday cake, the kind that wants a little too much to look righteously celebratory.
We feel there are TWO kinds of desecration... one that neglects correcting the uncomfortable truth of the passage of time and wars and so on... and the one that tries to hide it.
They are BOTH desecrations.
And we feel that somehow Notre Dame de Paris suffered a certain degree of desecration exactly because of its pious (see mediocre) restoration.
We ask you to imagine ways to bring back truth to this otherwise important cathedral.
If necessary, bring back some darkness.
Return to the original grayness of stone and the effects of fire.
But more than this, we read that originally the cathedral was vividly colored.
But it seems our age is in fact a timid age... we want even a cathedral to be "clean" and white... that is, we want it to lie!
We urge you to imagine a VERTICALISATION of the Cathedral without which the Gothic is not Gothic.
Imagine the completion of the towers, vertically, even in iconoclastic, or "unconventional" ways...
Bring this cathedral to the present not through placid (that is uncreative) "restorations", but through actively engaging the building with today's life, good or bad as it is.
We like to think that the TRUE GOTHIC CATHEDRAL evolved over time, was not afraid to incorporate even local idiosyncrasies, derived from the particular time the work was done in... The CATHEDRAL EVOLVED, LIKE A LIVELY ORGANISM.
MAKE IT ALIVE AGAIN.
Make it more than a repository of "first class relics," as it is described on Wikipedia.
A cathedral should be more than a repository.
Nothing should be just a repository... not even a grave.
Since nothing is eternal but everything changes, let's bring change to this catehdral too...!
If necessary, shock the tourist!
That very tourist who thinks that by taking a photo of the new bells brought to the tower he or she reached a much desired proximity to God...!?!
It is not so.
Please send us ANY work, ANY size and ANY format that responds to the theme by the end of the year. This is a one year long call for entries to enliven again the spiritual center of Paris and probably of France too. And we hope thus to encourage a change that will reverberate beyond Paris and beyond France.
A MORE VIVID, NOT LIVID, NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL - Paris
We are timid.
We really are.
Yes, we have unbelieveable rifles, we have unbelievable flying machines, yes, we still walk on ropes and we even jump from airplanes, with safety umbrellas, that is...
Yet, we are timid.
In relation with The Sacred we are timid, forgetting that God (and the Gods) love those who take risks, who are even ireverential, if the truth of our faith requires it.
It seems not only that the Greek temples were vividly colored, but also the Gothic Cathedrals, or at least Notre Dame in Paris was....
So, Monsieur Le Corbusier, it seems that before the cathedrals were white, they were red, green, blue, yellow, etc...
Strangely, Monsieur Le Corbusier should have known it, or at least felt it, considering the beautiful chromatic works he did at Chandigarh and other places, not to speak about his paintings...
But it seems most of the time Modernity was happier with white, just white, or reticent polychromies... this is a subject in itself... why so much whiteness...?!?
But even if Notre Dame was not originally vividly colored, most certainly its stones were gray, not white... which is better, better than white... because truer.
So this year, when we celebrate 850 years since the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris came into being, we wonder: is it what we look at a true image of what we celebrate...?
Restoration upon restoration afected it.
Yet tourists flock towards it as if covered with honey.
And their cameras, work, work, work...
But wouldn't even their cameras be happier if what they were pointed at was a little more vivid, than livid...?!?
The way the cathedral is now is very unconvincing... more convincing in fact seems to be the spire that was built in the XIXth century, than what was restored from the previous centuries.
Even Viollet-le-Duc, in the name of a more genuine "Gothic feeling" destroyed, we think... he destroyed the traces of time, those that would have conferred a truer "feeling"...
Sincerely, we would have preferred a darker facade... a facade whose wounds would have been repaired, yes, but not hidden.
The passage of time, at Notre Dame, is barely acknowledged...
If we were vicious, we would have said that as it is now, at least in its outer aspects, the cathedral resembles somehow a giant birthday cake, narcisistically aware of the camers pointed at it, but hiding its inner truth.
And when we read that initially the grayness of its stones was covered by vivid colors, we wonder...
Why are we so timid...? And why aren't we trying to verticalize it, for God's sake, by soaring its two amputated towers towards a sky that no doubt is waiting for them...??! How come at La Defence the great city of Paris did find the means to spring towards the sky, but not at Notre Dame...?!?
And why are we afraid of "modern interventions"...?!?
Wasn't it in the spirit of the Gothic to incorporate whatever the several centuries that took building a cathedral brought with them...?!?
To restore without a soul is a desecration in itself.
To kill a life in order to preserve it is to misunderstand both Life and Art.
We ask you to redress this situation.
IMAGINE A TRUE REJUVENATION OF NOTRE DAME. BRING IN COLOR, BRING IN THE "NON-CONFORMISM" OF THE PRESENT, AND SOAR TOWARDS THE SKY, WITH TWO TOWERS THAT WILL REFUSE TO CONTINUE TO BE BLUNTLY CUT IN HALF.
IF YOU BELIEVE A CATHEDRAL IS THE HOUSE OF GOD, THEN HAVE COURAGE, FOR GOD'S SAKE...!
RESSURECT LIFE FROM THE TOMB OF MERE PRESERVING.
BRING BLOOD IN. BRING EXUBERANCE IN. BRING COLOR IN.
AND SOAR AND DANCE AND SING WITH OUR LADY HIGHER AND HIGHER, IN SPIRALS OF JOY AND JOY AND JOY.
Then step aside and contemplate.
You can even take pictures, but only AFTERWARDS.
Please send us your exuberant proposal.
A HOUSE FOR MARIANNE
Or should we say Marie Anne…?
It doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is that in France Marianne is the symbol of Freedom, that is, Liberte… and maybe a little more surprising, of Reason.
That in 1792 portraits of Marianne replaced portraits of Saint Mary inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris could only add, of course, to the prestige of Marianne.
Standing or sitting with a spear in her hand and a Phrygian cap on her head, or barebreasted, in a dynamic position, as represented by Delacroix, Marianne was certainly a force.
What happened to her…?
No one would think today to replace inside ANY cathedral St. Mary with her… and in a way this is alright.
What is less alright, perhaps, is that we kind of forgot Marianne, not only in France, but everywhere.
Strangely, although we live on the shoulders of The French Revolution, we kind of forgot Marianne.
So we think it is only fitting to remember her, on the occasion, next year, of the 225th anniversary of the French Revoution.
And since we mentioned Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, maybe a good place to imagine a forward looking HOUSE FOR MARIANNE would be right in front of the cathedral, in the Parvis.
Why not honor BOTH St. Mary and Marianne…?
If Marianne, as a name, stood for ANY woman, particularly “the ordinary, common woman” (if there is such a thing as a “common woman”), then maybe to place a building dedicated to her right in front of the building dedicated to Our Lady (Notre Dame) could indeed mean something…
Perhaps BOTH Lady and Woman should be considered, thus reflecting Baudelaire's assessment that art has two halves: the eternal, the immutable (St. Mary - in this case) and the transitory, the ephemeral (for us, Marianne)… the presence of TWO buildings associated both through harmony and contrast we feel could enhance the center of Paris, giving it a complexity of meaning and excitement, even provocation, that now it might miss…
Yes, the French Revolution ended as it did, but perhaps its initial impetus and ideals are worth thinking of and contemplating again.
Liberte – Egalite – Fraternite
That is, Marianne.
Did Our Lady’s celestial Son teach us anything else…?!?
So maybe Our Lady and Marianne are good "sisters".
So let’s imagine for these two "sisters" a common ground… a relation that could enhance both.
The Eternal and the Transitory.
The Immutable and the Ephemeral.
Our Lady and Our Woman.
Please send us ANY work, ANY size and ANY format and we will publish them.