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letter from paris
by Jeff Rian

six galleries to move to the 13th arrondissement

As of March 1997, six Paris galleries will relocate from the Marais, the City of Lights' version of SoHo, to the 13th arrondissement, across the river, on the Left Bank, just behind the new library that Mitterand started (and that is far from functioning) and the apartment complex next to it being built by the Chirac administration, which is going up at a clip. Ah politics! The galleries are: Air de Paris; Jennifer Flay; ARPS, run by Almine Putman, formerly of Froment-Putman; Emmanuel Perrotin; Art Concept, a Nice- based gallery; and Bruno Delavallade, a former gallery-owner who will reopen.

Some consider the 13th Paris's arrondissement of the future. It's the largest, most populated, and culturally diverse, including Chinatown, high-rises (I live on the 26th floor of one), a mini- Montmartre called the Butte aux Cailles, and Les Gobelins, which is old Paris before Hausmann brought this former outskirt into Paris proper in the 1860s. And thanks to the wife of the mayor of the 13th, Lise Toubon (arrondissements have appointed mayors; Jacques Toubon--Mr. All-Good--is also Minister of Internal Affairs in the Chirac government), the galleries will enjoy a year rent-free while the mayor spruces up the 13th, which, as yet, lacks an art center like the Dia Center, which helped to cushion the New York galleries' emigrations from SoHo to Chelsea.

These are not the blue-chip galleries that first founded the Marais, but they represent many of the younger generation of artists - Maurizio Cattelan and Mariko Mori at Emmanuel Perrotin; Ugo Rondinone and a young video artists named Rebecca Bournigault at ARPS; Xavier Veilhan, Melanie Counsell, and the late Felix Gonzales-Torres at Jennifer Flay; Paul McCarthy at Air de Paris (where at their current address he is showing photographs and a script for a cowboy-jerk-off-no- penetration-porn-film-in-progress called Saloon, which will be shown in January. More later on that). What they're looking for is change and potential in what are, here in France, hard economic times.


JEFF RIAN is a writer living in Paris.

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