“City of Lights, City of Fonts” is a blog and visual diary created by ArtSlant’s Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Ali Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald will explore France’s evolving visual relationship to propaganda, looking deeply at aesthetics of nationalism and politicized otherness. With sketches, writing, and graphic vignettes, she will document fonts, signage, and France's history of drawing as activism.
Recently I had drinks with a friend and we were discussing the removal of Confederate statues in the States. I asked her if there were any similar discussions about statues in Paris, and which ones she might personally remove.
I’ve talked a bit about Marianne as a symbol of the French Republic, and how her image has been politicized. But there’s another woman, not fictional, who also occupies the role of useful political symbol or tool. French politicians across the spectrum lay claim to Jeanne D’Arc or Joan of Arc, the saintly teenager who heard voices and led the French armies to victory in the siege of Orléans.*
*The veracity of this story has often been called into question.
The National Front often uses Joan of Arc as an avatar because she “kicked out” British invaders or immigrants. For the far-right, Joan of Arc represents ultra-nationalism, but also a confusing Catholicism that contradicts a very pro-laïcité stance. The National Front holds a yearly May Day event around the statue of Jean d’Arc in the center of Paris.
At the 2012 celebration, Jean-Marie Le Pen yelled “Help, Jeanne D’Arc!” as he laid a wreath at her feet. But what does that mean?
Just who was this gender-bending teenage mystic? And how has she been portrayed in art and propaganda? Next time I’ll look at Joan of Arc, her image in wartime posters in France, and the beginning of the propaganda poster wars in the City of Lights.
In the meantime, here are actresses who have played Joan of Arc with bowl haircuts of varying severity:
Tags: City of Fonts #GeorgiaFeeResidency Paris artist residency Illustration, drawing, sculpture