Story & Photos by Caroline Saurel
If you’re looking for the sun in Paris this Summer, forget it! If instead you are looking for street art, there’s an event you shouldn’t miss from L’été du Canal – Summer Festival de l’Ourcq. It will take you to the North of Paris on a street art treasure hunt along the Ourcq canal that you can follow for 10 kilometers. It’s specifically called “ART ALONG THE OURCQ” and it feels like street artists left their spray signature just for you to trace along the water canal. More than 30 French and international urban artists were offered the opportunity to create works in tune with this specific location. Among which: Seth, Jace, le MoDule de ZeeR, le Cyklop, Da Cruz and even Jacques Villéglé – now 88 but still creating visual interactive artworks which don’t fail to engage the passer-by.
They all got involved in the creation of a visually engaging trail that links Paris to Aulnay-sous-Bois for us to follow their steps as they designed their Hop-O’-My-Thumb’s pebble-like wanderings along the river.
With the canal as a connecting line, they could enjoy their every whim using different tools such as paint, stencils, cardboard paper or else to create installations bordering on in-situ contemporary art pieces. They also used whatever surface they fancied: phone booths, doors, stairs steps, billboards, sign posts, footbridges and iron curtains to name just a few.
This run-of-the-river street art fest is organized by the urban group Art Azoi which stands for the promotion of urban art in its most creative forms as well as the so-called ‘underprivileged’ areas.
The works are all different and unique, each one is a surprise. Large murals compete with tiny creatures, graphic for the sake of it or stating a political message, they are all here to impress. But there are also tiny patterns almost hiding here and there for you to hunt like treasures or just shying away from the public eye. Thus the city is conceived as a playground for the artists, the passers-by and the local residents.
Both street art lovers and passers-by enjoy the works as they walk, ride or sail along.
Eventually, a walk along the Ourcq can remind you Arthur Rimbaud’s famous poem “My Bohemia”, where the artist is like a “Dreamy Tom Thumb, sowing the roads there/With rhymes.” You just have to open your eyes, so “That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”
Tips on getting there and where to look:
Metro station “Jaurès”:
-Sculptures and totems by Da Cruz in the gardens of la Rotonde de Stalingrad
-Works by Seth along both sides of the Canal when heading north
– Works by Levalet by the first suspended bridge
Metro station “Eglise de Pantin”:
– Advertising billboards by Tetar, Jacques Villéglé, Thom Thom Dan23 (across the Customs’ office building of Pantin)
Along the canal walking towards Paris:
*left bank: works by Seth near a staircase, phone booths by Djalouz and Marko93, mural by Da Cruz.
* right bank: sculptures by Cyklop, mural by Jace and chimney painted by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR and more works by Seth.
Art of Popof . Cristobal Diaz . Da Cruz . Dan 23 . Derlon . Dize . Djalouz . Erol . Eyone . Frez . Jace . Jacques Villéglé . JBC . Lapinthur . Le MoDuLe De ZeeR . Le Cyklop . Levalet . Marko93 . Medra . Oak Oak . Olivia De Bona . Ox . Romain Froquet . Seth . Surfil . TetaR . T.O . Thom Thom . W.A.Y.L.A