To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Carcassonne becoming a UNESCO world heritage site, it has been decorated. In this writer’s opinion, the old walled cité of Carcassonne is already decorative enough not to require further adornment; it already looks more like Camelot than would Camelot. Some folks clearly disagree, though. We popped along to have a look, though choosing to go on a Saturday morning when a market was in full swing was perhaps a questionable decision. With yours truly watching traffic and Francine watching road signs – in an unfamiliar busy city one person can’t do both – we finally found first the cité and then a parking spot unscathed, despite at one point thinking I was in a car park that was actually a two-way street. An oncoming car provided the clue.
OK, so “a work of modern art” [instant ringing of alarm bells] has been bestowed upon Carcassonne by a Swiss-born chappie called Felice Varini. He now lives in Paris. As with Antony Gormley of The Angel of the North fame, we benefit from the artistic mumbo-jumbo explanation that necessarily accompanies any true modern artist, according to which Mr. Varini:
… designs his paintings from a a point of view which reveals a geometric shape built upon the architecture. As soon as we leave the right point of view, as soon as the visitor moves, the shapes split and create a multitude of other perspectives.
OK, so what adorns Carcassonne is not actually a painting because paint would not be removable. In this instance the work is made of kilometres of very sticky bright yellow tape, the advantage of sticky tape being that it can be unstuck. The artwork is called Concentric Eccentric Circles and is designed to be seen from Port d’Aude on the west slope of the cité.
Personally, I think the mumbo-jumbo is somewhat arse backwards. Having parked and as we approached, some sections of the the city’s magnificently intact walls appear to be covered is disjoint slabs of bright yellow, some of which hint at their titular circular nature but others of which do not. So, this disjointed nature, those so-called “different perspectives”, are actually the first things that any visitor sees (unless, of course, they were to be blindfolded and walked to the design point of view).
As one approaches the design POV [photographic shorthand], these disjointed blocks of colour do, amazingly, come together into their intended geometric shape, in this case concentric circles.
Think about that for a moment. The towering, convoluted walls of the city, complete with turrets, reaching heights that must top 100ft/30m, taking into account variously curved and angled surfaces, have been accurately taped up in yellow such that, when seen from one point and one point only, those yellow shapes form circles. Firstly, how in the blazes does one work out exactly which sections of the many differently angled walls have to be taped where and, having done so, how does one actually direct and accurately affix the tape where it needs to be? I can only imagine that a precise computer model would have been made in some Computer Aided Design software.
I must admit that the form of the adornment, whether an artwork or not, is thoroughly amazing. To me, this is more like a complex engineering work than an artwork, though I suppose that the conception would be termed artistic.