digital photography provides resolution with no need for developing and little effort: forms, absences

Paris, inconclusive. This seems to be the title, even if our stay has not yet actually concluded. Tomorrow is our last full day here. A day, then, today, as inconclusive as any we’ve had here. Not unsatisfactory, exactly. But a few key movements were rather brought to an end than finding, on their own, a conclusion. The quality visited upon us by a chain of experiences of inconclusive result. Like our first true endeavour: the cloud is high, let’s climb the Eiffel Tower!

The route from where we are, on Metro, RER, or bus, is annoyingly tortuous, and greedy on time. The fastest way seems to be a Metro-RER combo and going from the little underground trains to the one-and-a-half floor regional trains makes it feel as though an additional obstruction has been added.

As with other queue dancing here, we are moved from one to an other, one pillar of the tower to another, without there being any ostensible reason. The security bag check waggles his finger at Q.’s scooter. There seems no way forward. Until suddenly, without any change in expression and just as we’re about to turn back, he allows it to be stowed in his glass guard box.

Tickets are bought. We take our place in the next queue. We board the double-decker lift. Top floor. We take off, the two huge ballast pistons rise and fall, if that’s what they are. The system is allegedly hydraulic, but has these big counterweight type objects at its base. We rise. And rise. Until having a place at the window becomes a liability. Don’t want to look.

The lift travels up the pillar on a diagonal, then its track straightens out, vertically. We hesitate at the first floor. The doors don’t open. We continue our ascent.

At the second floor, the claustrophobia of the crowd as well as vertigo have got the better of us. We don’t get into the summit lift. We circle the floor discussing our options. Willing but weakening. Then look into the summit lifts. People squashed in, what for? Out of a sense of obligation? We go no further. Can’t bring ourselves to.

It’s not exactly a failure. But…

Being out this way, towards Montparnasse, we lunch near a Metro and get on line 13 bound for Giacometti’s studio. Now, I had read there was nothing any longer there, the atelier having been dismantled, like Bacon’s, and only a plaque on a wall marking the place where Alberto and Diego and their partners, and a fox from Auschwitz, for a time, made their home. But J. had read something. And wishful thinking prevailed.

Half an hour or so later, in a pleasant quiet and leafy area, smelling of the now dismantled fish-market, we found the plaque. And nothing more. A name was on the box of someone professing to be a painter and sculptor. But we didn’t knock.

Back we trolled, towards Pompidou, to at least see one artist’s atelier, Brancusi’s. It turned out to be free. We circled the place several times. The tools were as interesting as the work collected there. Especially the hoist arm for the electric hammer chisel and its counterweight. (Another theme for the day: the counterweight.)

After, we returned to the extreme art bookshop in Pompidou, having purchased our tickets for The Thrill of it All, Forced Entertainment, on tomorrow night. Again, circling. Cheap beautiful books. But why? Why buy?

And then the ones that made sense, theoretical. Themed like so: who does contemporary art think it is? To be contemporary has come to mean all-time, absorbing all schools, all trends. Being current now means something coterminous with generality. In the all-time of the Now. And all the little theoretical schools of which the art – circling this bookshop – comes to seem a mere shifting collection of examples.

I couldn’t buy anything. I did find one volume from an exhibition in … I forget, called Theatre without Theatre, but it cost 68 Euros. And Deleuze and Claire Parnet’s Abecedaire DVD. Cheap. But solely in French. Why set oneself more challenges when simply being here surviving is enough of one? Linguistically, I mean.

Matthew Barney’s Cremaster DVDs appeared to have sold out. An intriguing volume entitle L’Inframince. Well, noone loves the infra-mince like I do. Which is why I couldn’t embrace it as that one thing I needed to take with me.

Either branch out into the work of artists one doesn’t know or consolidate with hard-to-get volumes – especially those produced for exhibitions. I couldn’t do it. And selfishly couldn’t think what might make good presents.

Inside such a maximalist space is when one yearns for the necessarily limited choices of a private collection like Peggy Guggenheim’s in Venice. Still the model for us of a gallery ‘experience.’

I suppose the curatorial reasoning has to be ‘good enough’ to a like experience outside of the personal collection of which the guarantee of authenticity, if you like, is that it was the collector’s own, in life. The familiar old seal of death.

And representation.

Q. walked away with mini Moleskines, J. with a present in a tube, which we sent to NZ on the way to the next Metro. And with all that, all that inconclusivity, we returned home at 7:30. Q. over-tired. And his skin thing. Let’s not mention his skin thing. Emotionally overwrought.

All of us reconciled over an excellent improvised stir-fry. It sounds like we venture out tomorrow for our last day here with one goal only, conquer the trap of Versailles. God knows the same could not seriously be proposed for Notre Dame. She is too far gone.