The Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris has a ductile salon that is often used to host displays of various kinds. It is divided into a mezzanine and a larger, rectangular area on the lower level, with a very high ceiling and no obstacles, such as pillars. Briefly: it is spacious and exhibit-friendly.
In spite of this the exposition of the 150 shots dedicated to the city of Paris by Magnum photographers, currently hosted in the aforesaid salon, manages to fail, because of the poor organisation of the available space.
It takes some effort for a bungle
to come out of the finest works
thrown in a senseless picture jungle
regaining light, but losing perks.
The oldest and most famous pictures by the founders of the agency did not actually need to be brought back to light, of course, since even to the untrained tourist the name of Henri Cartier-Bresson and black and white shots of a younger Paris go naturally together. It is namely the contemporary photographers that in this exhibition suffer the most.
Chronology can be forgiven
as trivial but serviceable.
But viewers from war have been driven
to today: inexplicable.
The itinerary starts in the mezzanine with pictures by Capa, Cartier-Bresson and Seymour; when moving downstairs the viewer is naturally prone to proceeding through the first of the three aisles in which the works are presented, and it works well. In the middle of that aisle, though, many might overlook the panel, oddly placed at their backs, on which more, chronologically irrelevant pictures are projected (without the necessary captions).
The way that needs to be taken from there is unclear and the viewer can easily end up admiring Paris in the ‘80s before enjoying “Les années pop”; an inconvenience that could have been easily avoided:
It’s always best to start at the beginning,
and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.
(The Wizard of Oz)
The awkward problem of the projectors presents itself again in the crammed, sacrificed space dedicated to the current contributors to Magnum, where the bystander is forced by the pressing crowd to skip more images cast in corners in which it is impossible to enjoy them.
In conclusion what is true
is the exhibit was rich
but to avoid the annoying glitch
for next time don’t overdo.