Two Weeks in Paris: Penises are everywhere (Day 4)

Yes, you read the title correctly and yes I’m talking about a part of the male body that’s most commonly associated with urinating and having sex.

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Once again I’m writing this blog a day late – but not a buck short – (get me for cultural references), so hopefully you’ll join me in my self-indulgent quest of food and deep and meaningful ponderings.

If you’re looking to catch up you can also read my Paris back catalogue too. It’s great fun, comes with free cookies and will definitely move you to tears. Sadly I’m unable to offer a money back guarantee at this time.

To return swiftly to my click bait title, today will always be seared in my mind as the day of the penises. Luckily enough – or not depending on your perspective – these weren’t real in the flesh erections, but part of an exhibition of the work of American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

As a photography novice (you’ll notice that novice and uneducated is a recurring theme of mine at this summer school), I had no idea what to expect from his work, except our lecturer had said we might find some things “uncomfortable”.

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The exhibition was held at the Grand Palais

As it turns out, a lot of Mapplethorpe’s work focuses on exploring the photography of the body and pushing the limits of pornography. Which means a lot of naked people and a lot of fetish gear.

I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed the exhibition. Partly because I don’t really get art and really struggled with Monday’s modern art and conceptual architecture and partly because a lot of people’s reaction of penis pictures is understandably YUCK EW BLERGH.

Firstly, I seem to have learnt that obscene pictures of genitals really don’t phase me and secondly good art, for me, is something that sparks a discussion.

I am looking for perfection in form. I do that with portraits. I do it with cocks, I do it with flowers.

(Mapplethorpe, 1985)

While I appreciate the idea behind some of Mapplethorpe’s work; that beauty and perfection can found just as readily in the human body as in a flower, I had some inherent uneasiness with his work, and not just because someone was sticking a finger up their penis for the sake of art.

Mapplethorpe says he’s looking for perfection in the human form, which is just as easily found in sexual photos as pretty daisies, but why is this perfection only found in slender woman or big-cocked, toned men?

If we can find perfection anywhere surely it’s just as easily found in a someone whose boobs are slightly sagging, are older, or just so happen to have a few lumps and bumps.

I took solace in the fact his pictures of woman did show them with pubic hair, which SHOCK HORROR isn’t an abomination, but I couldn’t help but think his definition of perfection was somewhat different to mine.

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Food came with the friendliest service and freebies at the end!

 

To see me ramble on for half a page on penises you would probably think I spent my whole day looking at them but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

Other exploits included a creative writing seminar, a wander around Paris encompassing the lovelock bridge and the Louvre, a fantastic gourmet burger bar, a trip to the British Ambassador’s residence and a book launch at Shakespeare and Co.

I really felt like today was the best day I’ve had yet. I appear to have actually connected with people on more of a true friendship level, going beyond the mere “what do you study and you live where” and even broaching the holy grail of hugs and dropping my faux posh accent.

I also felt I connected much more with the lecture of creative writing; much like journalism it’s a way of channeling people’s stories and telling them to the world, something I’m truly passionate about and came with some interesting ideas such as the Metro Poem where you compose a poem on your journey.

You may only compose when the train is in motion and scribe when it’s at a station and sounds like the best way to spend a tube journey in rush hour.

The desk at Shakespeare and Company

The desk at Shakespeare and Company

The same lecturer also happened to be launching a book that evening in Shakespeare and Co, where he also spoke extensively about his work as a reviewer.

As part of this he explained about how he would always strive for positivity in reviews, and would turn down books he felt were not for him.

I couldn’t help but felt this defeated the point of an honest review and was a deception to the reader.

Surely reviewers should undertake all work they are qualified to do (bar conflicts of interest) in an objective and constructive manner, not present a happy “EVERYTHING IS ACE” ideal?

We also stopped for tea at the British Ambassador’s residence, which was a privileged experience. I even braved a cup of tea, despite the yuck as it’s not every day you get invited in to the ambassador’s house.

I also stole some wifi and took a selfie in the toilet, but we won’t talk about that.

Toilet selfie

Toilet selfie

The Louvre

The Louvre

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Housey House

Housey House

Happy Faces

Happy Faces

Mango!

Mango!

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