The Isle of Nantes—Art or Not Art?

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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.

The Loire River

The Loire River

The New Courthouse

The New Courthouse

Carrousel Ticket

Carousel Ticket

Mark on the Carrousel

Mark on the Carousel

Mark on the Carrousel

Mark on the Carousel

Mark on the Carrousel

Mark on the Carousel

Watch for the Elephant!

Watch for the Elephant!

The Titan Crane

The Titan Crane

The Machines de l'ïle

The Machines de l’ïle

The Huge Marine Worlds Caroussel

The Huge Marine Worlds Caroussel

Under the Titan Crane

Under the Titan Crane

Nantes' Industrial Past

Nantes’ Industrial Past

Nantes' Industrial Past

Nantes’ Industrial Past

Buren Rings

Buren Rings

Partying by the Loire River

Partying by the Loire River

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

6 Comments

  1. Salut Zhu,
    Art is a highly personal expression and I leave it up to each of us.
    As the French say “des goûts & des couleurs ne se discutent pas”/ “You don’t discuss colors & tastes”.

    You are a photographic artist, like each of us who is “photo crazy”. 🙂

  2. Oh I remember that elephant, I saw it in your blog a couple of years ago! If I get to visit Nantes, hopefully it’s still there!

    Your thoughts on art reminded me of a conversation between a friend and I after watching a performance of modern music. I concluded that for me, music should be falsifiable. In the sense that there should be a way to determine whether you’re performing the piece right or wrong. In most piano music, for example, if the pianist hits the wrong note, then it is obvious. There is a feeling of dissonance. In most modern music, the concept of dissonance is explored to the point that it is actually good to be dissonant. However, there are other ways of falsifying the piece. So one can still be a virtuoso even though one is playing dissonant music (for example, Ligeti’s piano compositions), as it takes skill and practice to achieve that. That is different from say, someone who just randomly plonks at the keyboard and claim that it is art, or modern music.

    Oh well, you got me started. I’ll shut up now. 😛

    • I don’t have much time to argue back… (sorry!) but I will, eventually. Because I love arguing about art, and religion (and I know you do too!)

  3. Hi, I just wanted to let you know that the 19th edition of the Byteful Travel Blog Carnival will be on JimsGotWeb.com on July 31st. Be sure to go to BlogCarnival.com and submit your travel posts by July 27th to be listed in the Carnival.

    I look forward to reading all of your interesting travel articles. See you at the Carnival!

    Jim

  4. Pingback: Mark at the Isle of Nantes | Correr Es Mi Destino

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