Wandering through passages in Paris.
'These passages, a new invention of industrial luxury, are glass-covered galleries, panelled with marble, which cross entire blocks of buildings whose owners have grouped together for such considerations. On either side of these galleries, which receive the daylight from above, are lined up the most elegant stores, so that such a passage is a city, a world in miniature.’ — Illustrated Guide to Paris, 1850
In these covered galleries, countless food stores, restaurants, gadgets, souvenirs, by-products and ready-to-wear items punctuate the stroll of passer-bys. It is a labyrinth where the crowd as well as the merchandise are displayed. These commercial streets are neither completely outside nor completely inside the city. They act as thresholds, places of reverie where time and the consciousness of the flâneur are altered to counter the experience of the shock of the big city. Indeed, these streets, brought to life by iron and glass architecture, are above all a refuge from the inhospitable and blinding experience that is characteristic of megacities. The transformations brought about by modernity and the commercial sphere have reified the urban space. The inhabitants of the city no longer feel at home there; they are beginning to become aware of the inhumanity of the big city.
A threshold, buffer zone, dream zone; the passage is a place where several memories and states of consciousness are superimposed (dream, awakening, awareness). The voluntary memory, that of the chaos of commodity and publicity, rubs shoulders with the collective unconscious, the Ideal and the Utopia. The collective memory is a compound of truth and betrayal, of authentic utopia and phantasmagorical utopia, nurtured by the dream of the commodity. The architecture of the passage is the reification of this thought, and it is thus a testimony of the collective dream.
The passages would appear then as an antechamber of the collective awakening, where dialectic images show themselves in their double sense: on the one hand turned towards the myth and the archaic, the other turned towards the promise of social progress. The awakening of the collective appears then as a synthesis of a dreaming consciousness, and the antithesis of the awakened consciousness.
This artistic project, conceived as a triptych, has the task of presenting these different forms of memory that sway the crowds and circulate amongst the Parisian passages.”
"Memory is the only paradise from which we cannot be cast away."
Johann Paul Friedrich Richter
“These large and beautiful ships, imperceptibly swaying (waddling) on the quiet waters, these robust ships, with their idle and nostalgic air, do they not say to us in a silent language: When do we leave for happiness?"
"Everything must change for nothing to change."
The Cheetah, Luchino Visconti