“Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!”
“So, life is disappointing, forget it! In here life is beautiful, the girls are beautiful, even the orchestra is beautiful”, sings the Master of Ceremonies in the musical “Cabaret”.
I wonder if Zalez had “Cabaret” in mind when he composed this street art which I spotted in the 4th arrondissement in October, 2012? The outfits of “Cabaret” heroine, Sally Bowles, and the figure on the wall are similar. The written words “life is beautiful” supports the theory. I reacquainted myself with the film soundtrack while I did my drawing of wall, downpipe and street art. The songs loop around in my head.
In 1930s pre-Weinmar Germany (the setting for “Cabaret”) life was precarious – as it still is in this example of Zalez’ street art. The female figure dangles perilously off the balloon. Is she in control? In what state will she land? She looks determined and apprehensive simultaneously. Maybe she will land in enemy territory?
Perhaps Zalez is referencing “Le Ballon rouge” (1956 Oscar-winning film) by Albert Lamorisse? The film, set in grim Ménilmontant, tells the story of friendship between a boy and a magical red balloon. In the finale, Lamorisse’s boy hero (played by his son, Pascal) is swept skywards, pulled by a magnificent team of multi-coloured balloons.
“Cabaret” and “Le Ballon rouge” each reveal a poignant and melancholy beauty sought out and gleaned from the grungy decay of their harsh environments; “Cabaret” in pre-war Berlin and “Le Ballon rouge” in post-war Paris.
So, what was Zalez thinking when he chose this piece of crumbling wall for the site of his artistic expression? What was I thinking when I made a drawing of it? In my case, I find truth in what is written and beauty in the stencil amid the decaying stone and rusty steel micro-scape. “Even the orchestra is beautiful.” Even the decay is beautiful.
“Aufwiedershen! À bientôt! Good night!”
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