The elephant is still here and it has become a major tourist attraction. The Isle of Nantes is now one of the “hot spots” in the city and there is a lot to see and to do: the mechanical elephant, two carousels featuring creatures from Jules Verne’s books, many cafés and bars, nice relaxing “beaches” by the Loire River, etc. All the attractions are part of a large art project blending Jules Verne’s invented worlds, Da Vinci’s mechanical genius and the industrial history of the city.
Mark went on a ride on his first carousel—he didn’t really ask for it but I couldn’t resist giving it a try with him! He did very well and it made him laugh (and yes, I enjoyed the ride too!). I used to love carousels when I was a kid, and each France city has at least one.
Despite enjoying the Isle of Nantes as a Canadian tourist, I cannot help complaining about it like a cynical French. The attractions are very expensive (a ride on the huge Marine Worlds Caroussel is 8 euro!) and the entire concept is a money-making machine (no pun intended), far from being just “art” as it was intended at first. Sure, the machines are original, but the shipyard park is turning into a Disneyland. The pretentious discourse on this modern art concept bothers me and I feel the project is now a gimmick rather than an innovational and inventive process.
My dad is an artist and so is my mom—they met at the Beaux-Arts school 30 years ago. We can argue about art for hours and even though I don’t consider myself an artist, I do care about creative projects and the meaning of art. Can—and should—art mix with money? Sure, why not! But it still has to be original and creative. I think when you lose the passion and start trying to please people rather than to follow a thought process, you miss your goal and the purpose of art, which is to make people feel something. Entertaining the crowd is good… but it is no longer art. I respect those who take risks. Feeding the crowd what it wants is just the easy way.
You can see the complete set of pictures of France here.