The Paris You Dream Of: 100 Views of the Eiffel Tower
A Work-in-Process. (Art print: 30" by 40" ed. 19. 44" by 64" ed of 5. (open edition 17" x 22")
What is an icon and how does something become Icon? What is it about Paris that affects people on such a deep emotional level? These are questions that have always fascinated me when I hear people talk about Paris--as if Paris were a long-lost lover. And yet for those who actually live and work in Paris, this love affair is one big complication. This is why I want to explore the notion of Paris as urban space. How does the Parisian cityscape and iconography turn the “City of Lights” into “the Icon of Love”?
How does a city become like a lover? The subject of my project, 100 Views of the Eiffel Tower: The Paris You Dream Of, is inspired by the Japanese artist Hokusai's, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. Hokusai's woodblock prints reflect the towns and valleys that rest along the base of Japan’s tallest mountain. Although, Mount Fuji is an important icon throughout the series, his main subjects are often of people on their journey though breathtaking scenery, with Mount Fuji in the distance.
In this sense, Hokusai’s work chronicles the birth of modern travel within Japan in the early twentieth century. Today we travel around the world to experience urban spaces and man made structures. Often these structures were built for one specific reason yet gradually come to symbolize something far larger. Hence although the Eiffel Tower was first built as a monument to Industry, Science, Architecture and Engineering over a century ago, today it has clearly transcended its original purpose to symbolize something far more complex, personal, and ethereal.
When I ask people why they love the Eiffel Tower, they often look at me in a confused manner -- and then follow up with complicated answers (like a teenage boy trying to explain his first crush to his mother). This is why I want to follow in Hokusai’s footsteps, hoping that through my camera’s eyes - as seasons change creating through the shadow and light, as leaves fall and young people are eager to take their own place within the Paris Spring-- these black-and-white photographs may provide answers to their questions, and to my own: How does a City become an icon, the backdrop to humanity’s most complex emotions? --- joSon