August 5, 2010
Paris and Paparazzi
Like many who visit Paris for the first time, seeing “Mona” was at the top of my list of things to do.
I had heard that she was smaller than one might expect and I would agree with that statement. While I am glad to have visited her, what really fascinated me about seeing her was the sociological behavior of all of the others who had put “visiting Mona” on their list too.
I would describe it as an organized/disorganized herd of 200-300 people filling a room in a semi-circle (not a line) to get a glimpse of a great painting which is housed in a glass box. Naturally, not everyone could have a clear and close view of “the Mona” and this lead to some very interesting push and pull moments in the crowd. Little regard for personal space was observed while the multicultural mix of people ran their video cameras and flashed their SLR’s in unison trying to get “the picture”. Had everyone been yelling, “Mona, Mona, look here”, I could have mistaken the experience as a Paparazzi moment trying to get the latest shot of Justin Bieber.
To me, the observation of the people looking at Mona was as interesting as actually looking at her myself. I mean, watching hundreds of people from all over the world (push) fight for the chance to see a piece of ART… well….it was a moment that could spur a several hour conversation weaving human behavior related to expectations (thinking that the this piece of art is worth the extra trip), storytelling (the messaging that goes around the mystery of Mona), entitlement (I deserve to be in the front of the circle more than the person in front of me), and the appeal of art (what makes art appealing to one individual versus another). Of the 1,000 pictures I took in Paris, this is one of my favorites…this moment made me think.
Side note: Look behind the crowd at the paintings on the wall. In order to get to Mona, we were paraded by 10 hallways of the MOST GORGEOUS realistic paintings including a room of religious icon paintings that may have been some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
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