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Carnet de voyage à la Défense, Jacques Bravo, la grande Arche, vert, nemo, CNIT, j

Paris la Defense

Defense is not what people who never go believe.

It is a City of Lights, in the plural, because all the reflections, the reverberations meet there in endless games that men had not planned by drawing their cubes and their tubes. When I discovered, ten years ago, this "district" which had become the business capital of Europe in the third millennium, it was suddenly before my eyes, the year 2000 that I dreamed of when I was ten . I had finally found the playground that had populated my dreams. This unthinkable meeting in a toy city, was magic. So I took extreme pleasure in it.

It was not an order. I was not on a mission. Well after the release of my book on La Défense, I returned to my wonderland where light interferes everywhere, with no preconceived idea. Always, I went where my heart carried me. Without ceasing, I listened to my eye. Freely.

And I understood that everyday life is fantastic.

Paris La défense, Jacques Bravo, roller, tour EDF, saut, casque, tour Ariane,

Back to the year 2000 of my childhood dreams

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The Defense plaza


Cold and always disturbing. The aquarium of a Captain Nemo who would have lost the keys to his labyrinth, like those of the fairs of old. False transparent vertical glass strata. Very thick glasses, like steel plates which let the glance pass but blocks the winds, under the giant Arch which aggravates the Venturi effect. Planted in staggered rows, they filter the human, necessarily lost like this gray silhouette, since all the costumes are anthracite or gray. A man who has lost his shadow for a long time.


A bunch of colored pencils. A rainbow beam. The Moretti tower sinks into the blue sky squared by the trail of jet planes. An obelisk, which gives meaning, at the discretion of each.

It reminds me of the game of my childhood, when we were consigned. We were drawing a fortified castle, furnished with soldiers, well armed, between the merlons. We attacked him with pencils, launched from a flick, which could miss their target.

A game, since defense can also be a playground, an “I” field for those who have not forgotten anything.

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A square lawn, between Mondrian and Malévitch. A green geometry of eternal spring.

Since 2000, young trees have grown. So that, from this angle, the grass is definitively hidden, made in the shade, lost for the eyes. It is also a Scottish tartan. A flag that no flagpole will raise. A buried sign. A moment of freedom in the land of glass and concrete, ephemeral.

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Five red pellets, authoritarian like five red lights, no passing, for those who dare and do not understand? No, it is an optical protection to signal a dangerous glass barrier for the foreheads of the distracted. A man disappears into the distance, so he was able to enter. But will he come out of it?

Fly under the bell ... he knows the little chicane that opens the human trap. Signed Kafka.


The apocalypse. Irradiated members of a giant body, a set of Blade Runner.

The flying buttresses of precious wood draw a perspective of the future, the passages of the model city that we imagine in films or comics. Footbridges in a sort of patio, already fossilized wood. Warm but disturbing.


A Giacometti or De Chirico chessboard.

On the "Place des Degres" this funnel looks more like Father Ubu's phynance pump than a playful sculpture. Degree should be understood as the part of an angle, not as a step that would lead somewhere.

A man enters the infernal machine, another leaves it, but in what state, his shadow struck by the sun at the zenith, melts at his feet like soft wax.

There are only four left on the board. The king, the queen, and two madmen, of course ...


The 2010 thinker no longer takes his chin in his hand, with an overwhelmed air, as with Rodin. Dressed, he wears the regulatory three-piece suit, crushed by a facade whose blank tiles call graffiti like the bubbles of comics. This little Sempé guy has lost his pretty little house and his bike with panniers.


How simple warehouses without mischief or secrets become, by the game in the abyme of reverberations, a hermetic defense system, a wall of blocks which prohibits any passage. Only a bird was able to escape. Even the old-fashioned slots, above and to the left, from heroic times, are enlarged.


Bright signs in this relentless geometry? Not necessarily. These squared "bubbles" remind me of childhood dreams, when (fake) balloons forced the door of my room, an implacable army that disguised the toy. Mephistophelic balloons. Bulimics. Like the balloon in Le Prisonnier.


View of the port of Rouen before the departure of tall ships, old rigs?

La Défense, harbor of all dreams. Halyards, guy lines, guy lines, all the arsenal of the big three boat masts which doubled Cape Horn at the risk of the sea. There is even a very lone sailor, who leaves in the gangway , the only colorful place in this universe of monochrome mist, two bottles at its feet. So alive.

But as alone in his nightmare as Captain Ahab.


That evening, in the setting sun which always does things well, I saw a huge spaceship; surely leaving for Mars, or even further. For a black hole that would tell us the history of the world. Concrete members become powerful metal structures of the world's largest rocket. The play of lights - for a few seconds - made this "Passage des Corolles" an annex to Cape Canaveral.


Same aquarium color, viscous water, vaguely fluorescent, which dilutes. Same area. Misleading impression since it is a happy troop of Italian tourists. The plays of light, which were not planned by the architects, but which give life to this city born from nothing, give them the airs of artists on a shadow theater. Commedia dell arte.


Mouth of truth. Entrance to hell. Abyss of chimeras. Even men do not approach it. They avoid grazing the black crater like hell. In truth, it is a skylight for a parking lot. The man gives the scale, but does not reassure.


Still a memory of childhood, the good loco, in the background, spits a monstrous smoke while it is "Double lines indeterminate", by Venet. Fairytale encounter between a building without character and a powerful sculpture, in an imaginary marshalling yard.


The antithesis of the Moretti tower bursting with color and strength. An aggressive, disturbing shimmer, cells like spy eyes of computers, blades like jaws of saurians or sharks, or like cutterbars of mowers that spare nothing. A choice.


Perfect optical effect. For the photographer placed on the glacis, which dominates the slow staircase under the Arch, all the men are on the same line, they therefore appear of different sizes since the depth is denied. Thus offering a skewer cut out on the spot, as if some were 3 meters and others less than a meter. An infeasible sample elsewhere

Above the heads of this zoo, the strange velum, neo-cubist parachute, which is supposed to erase the effect of vertigo: the top of the Ark is so far that it is necessary to cut the perspective to make this infinite space habitable .

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"Luminous trees" by Takis. This is true since the color lights up in all weathers, and that small lamps, at dusk, animate the head of these puppets mounted on a spiral. Or then vaguely anthropomorphic corkscrews, high voltage line insulators put at the discarded by EDF and customized by pranksters? Army of springs, sequence cut in Mars Attack. Strip of steel cacti in the city desert.

Do not laugh.


Defense. New capital of 21st century Europe, it is part of the growth of Paris: the Eiffel Tower is still present even if it is 8 km away! Paris la Défense, Tour Gan Eurocourtage, restructuring works on the CB31 tower (formerly AXA), the Montparnasse tower, the Eiffel tower, the Iris footbridge and the Iris tower.

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