“Bathroom with Eiffel Tower Collection” (Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland)
I first fell in love with Paris through the words of others: Hemingway’s Moveable Feast, May Sarton’s I Dreamed a Phoenix, and, most of all, Colette, who I discovered in the pages of Victoria magazine. Then, of course, there were the movies—Daniel Auteil in Mama, There’s a Man in Your Bed (and in almost anything else he’s done), Audrey Tatou in Amelie. When I finally decided to use a chunk of my graduate student loan money to take a trip in the first part of the oughts (with Ronica my BFF from college), I was terrified that Paris wouldn’t live up to my imaginings. But wandering the tiny handbag shop we found in an alley on the way to Notre Dame or giggling through tea at Mariage Freres or eating creme brulee for dessert every night for a week or strolling in the hushed reverence of the Picasso museum in the Marais, Paris became even more magical. Each morning as I snuck out of our room in search of croissant and cafe creme (with my journal and my jauntily tied new peach scarf), I watched the green-uniformed sanitation workers swab the streets and thought, “Ah yes, I see, I have come home.”
So you know how I said I’d probably mention 20×200.com at least a billion times over the life of this blog, well, you can start counting.
Wednesday’s one of my favorite days because that’s when the 20×200 photography edition arrives. Today featured a double edition from Chinese photographer Shen Wei, and it was love at first sight for the first photo in the pair, “Blessing over the Rice Machine, Guiyang, Guizhou Province.” (The second half of the pair is gorgeous too, it just didn’t –to paraphrase Emily Dickinson–blow the top of my head off.)
I’ve been very drawn to industrial stuff lately, especially scenes that have a certain air of neglect, or maybe I’m responding to a sense of age, of staying power despite or in spite of. . . . In this particular photograph I think it’s especially the luminous colors that draw me in, that pop of green in the lower right, the earthy paper of the blessing. Maybe I like the idea that there is aesthetic satisfaction to be found in even the most seemingly unaesthetic settings . Something about the composition feels almost postcard-like to me, in the sense that there’s a whole story waiting to be unpacked within the borders of the frame. This is one of those images that I could be lost in for a long long time.
I think I’m going to mosy over to 20×200.com and see if there’re still any $20 editions left to order. I encourage you to do the same (but not if you’re getting the last one and leaving me heartbroken . . . )
More later, since I still have to report back on my finds at this weekend’s Handmade Mart in my hood.