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The Anti-Tourist

Tourisms is a spectacle that has taken over most major cities all over the world. Sites for tourist seem to prioritize almost all of the world’s most visited attractions. Having lived in Paris for almost a year now I am constantly seeing gift shops, signs and tours attracting thousands of tourists a day. People come to Paris with a list of must see monuments, museums and sites, most of which are universally known as “the best things to see in Paris”. While discussing this notion of tourism in class I couldn’t help but think of all the restaurants, venues and areas in Paris I have discovered despite touristic guidance. Isn’t…

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Roadside Crosses

Numerous roadside memorials in the form of crosses placed daily at the sites of fatal vehicle accidents are perceived both as accessible symbols of grief as well as cryptic private expression in contemporary memorial culture. We have all come across these memorials before, driving along the high way one at any point might cross the path of one of these crosses. Throughout the last two weeks we have discussed in great detail the significance of different memorial sites. Memory of deceased loved ones is expressed in a wide variety of ways throughout different cultures and communities. While often times our focus is mainly on more formal aspects of memorial, I…

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Censorship at Versailles

L’inconnu du Lac (The stranger of the lake), by Alain Guiraudie, opened last week in France. The film had been screened at the Cannes Film Festival a few weeks before and received positive reviews. The story happens in a Summer somewhere in France, where a lake is the meeting point of gay men of all…

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London’s Royal Artillery Memorial

Spending the weekend in London made me realize that this class has forced me to analyze the memorials that I too often walk by without a glance. I came across the Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park and was surprised by the World War I monument that rested in the middle of the park. It was a huge white stone memorial with huge realistic depictions of a war scene. These statues represented what Charles Sargeant Jagger depicts as the realities of war. He has one statue of a soldier in the trenches at war, the other with his arms stretched out and exhausted, and lastly and most effectively, a soldier…

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Semiotics of the Exhibition: Objects and Context

A museum is, in its very definition, a complex aimed at creating its own context—the museum, and to a lesser extent, the gallery, is the sepulcher of the art object and its history. In this way, the museum space and institution, as memorial sites and tombs often do, serves at once to laud the (art) object-on-display while simultaneously stripping it of the social framework in which it was created, later reformatting this context so that it speaks of a certain vantage point—that of the institution, perhaps the state, and those in power behind it. I was surprised to learn that famous French architect—“star-chitect”—Jean Nouvel had designed both the Musée Quai…

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Pedagogy and Museums

A large part of our discussions about memorials, museums and monuments is the pedagogy involved in the visitor’s interaction with the subject. Every single museum I’ve ever been has had small plaques describing the item and its creator or source. I visited the Pompidou this weekend, and realized that at some point I began actively rejecting the plaques. I read only the name of the artist. In some rooms, I avoided even that. I moved in and out of spaces without paying much attention to the name of the artists, titles of artworks, or the medium with which they were created. I also realized that I would never do this…

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Shopping in Paris. Parisian versus Tourist

People from all over the world believe Paris is the shopping capital of the world. However I must disagree. Yes Paris is extremely saturated with luxury brands, designer labels, and up and coming designers but with globalization most of the shopping that people come to Paris is most likely readily available to them in their surrounding areas or online.   I cant even count the times people have said to me “The shopping must be amazing in Paris.” Or  “I can’t wait to visit you and shop.” There has been a visual memory created for tourist of Paris being the best shopping in the world, possibly because of Paris fashion…

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My Experience at L’Institut Du Monde Arabe

Last week I went to l’Institut du monde arabe with our fellow TA, I was very excited to see what would be inside a museum that represented the Arab world. Upon entering the Arab institute, revealing my Arab identity granted me a free pass to the museum. In Arabic the woman at the entrance said to me, “You are Arab, you do not pay an entrance fee for this museum.” I was aware that there is a lack of Arab representation in our world and appreciated the free entrance. I understood that this is probably associated with the fulfillment that an Arab World Institute can bring to each individual Arab. Almost…

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On Memory and Opportunities for Consumption

Our visits to the Normandy prompted a great deal of cultural reflection upon the practice of tourism. The first museum we visited was apparently constructed in the 1980s to commemorate D-Day in Normandy. What struck me initially about the space was its resemblance to a modern day multiplex in not only its design, but also in the interactions with the space. The primary colors and bold fonts, as well as the circulation and interactions with the space reflected the practice of tourism as opportunities for visuality and consumption, both visual and material. Like a modern day multiplex, there was a space for buying tickets, after which visitors watch a movie…

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The Subaltern Gaze: Paris is pretty

Since the end of the war in Algeria, France has been repeatedly tempted to portray colonialism as an era frozen in (past) time. The post-colonial present has been invoked by right-wing officials to turn the page from metropolitan mea culpas and call for a renovated Françafrique, an association in which Africa is left to independently make…

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