A friend and artist in Paris, Monte Laster, suggested we attend the opening of the FRAC collection (one of the largest collections of primarily French contemporary art) at the MAC/VAL Museum on the outskirts of Paris. What luck!
Just a few days before that I had read a short blurb on this (fairly new) contemporary spot and made a mental note to go. That's serendipity.
Further to this serendipitous (wait! I have to go look that up - yep it's a word) moment, my good friend in Rio emailed about the MAC//VAL, saying I should definitely get out to see it.
Serendipity on top of serendipity.
According to Dictionary.com, "serendipity" means an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. WOW! This is something to be pondered - how does one gain this aptitude?
I had always considered serendipity, or the experience of coincidences, as a part of life beyond my control and simply a matter of LUCK. Everyone had moments of serendipity - few and far between - and it was a glorious and fun thing when it happend.
Now I find out that it is an aptitude, which implies improvement with practice, and I am rethinking my mistaken view of enchantment. In fact, starting today, I am going to practice my serendipity aptitude. As I go to the grocery store or take the metro to a rendez-vous, I am going to make a conscious effort to find such occurrences...discover them like land mines waiting to be tripped over... I am adopting a new relationship to serendipity. Perhaps, if you build it, the coincidences will come and all of that...
Back to the MAC/VAL: Monte and I met up at the end of the Line 7 metro at Port d'Italie. Then we took the Tram and a bus from there...MAC/VAl is not exactly in the center of town.
The MAC/VAL is sleek, contempy and very large. It hosts a huge permanent collection, temporary exhibitions, residencies, book store, restaurant, educational events, cinema...an outdoor expanse with sculpture and fountains.. It was built by Jacques Ripault and opened in November 2005.
I looked it up and found this article by SHIFT :
In Japan you may imagine a quiet residential area when you hear the word "suburb." But in France, the suburban areas are where low-income groups and immigrants move to avoid high rent in the urban districts. And lately, it has been hard to keep the peace in the suburbs outside of Paris.
The museum, which was built by Jacques Ripault, opened in November 2005 in the suburban city of Vitry. After 20 years of deliberation, the prefectural assembly chose Vitry because the location is symbolic of its cultural policy to promote contemporary arts (see more)...
.The FRAC exhibit is presenting almost all of the collection - to be set up in stages. The large warehouse-like room in which the work is being shown has racks at the back end filled with crates and boxes of work that is "to be shown" later. It is a progressive exhibit, sort of like those progressive meals where you go from one house to the next for each course. "High concept" one person said to me. Naturally, I wanted to pull out my exacto knife and go tackle the boxes of yet-to-be's.
Overall, the opening was like any other - milling, chatting, sipping, wondering who that man in the green shirt was... There was a nice array of drinks, and I especially enjoyed the Badoit extra fizzy water in the brilliant red bottle. There were little cups in which one could take a handful of peanuts or pretzels. Very accomodating. One could smoke outside in the sculpture garden, and you had to show your ticket to get back in to the opening. We got chased out of the exhibition salon for taking our drinks inside, the usual, and I couldn't tell which pieces I could touch and got in trouble for that too. The wonderful part of not speaking the language is that I can feign ignorance for everything....
While there I noted down my own set of rules for art openings that go like this: Don't touch; don't spill; don't expect to feel comfortable; don't stay long; don't stop moving (it won't be abvious that you don't know anyone); don't walk too quickly as you might crash into some art; and, if you really want to see the work, it's better to go early in the day when no one else is around.
Looking at art takes some focus and some aptitude.
Just like serendipities.
(All images courtesy of ArtSlant)