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Posts tagged “france

2014 was the GIF that kept on GIFing

By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.

And I win.

Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!

Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.


Dancing on the streets of Bonn.


Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.


The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)


The Berlin eyes have it.


The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows


Art imitates life imitates art.


Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.


Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)


Where’s the Space Invader?


I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”


I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How…  brave…”


I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”


I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”


How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.


How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen


How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)


Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…

Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.


2014: The Year That Taught Me Exactly What I’m Made Of

I don’t know how to start this entry so I’ll just launch right into the heart of it:

I spent most of this year homeless, broke and starving on the streets of Europe.

And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Most of you read this blog soley for all the amazing street art that I find (as you should, I have found some incredible and moving stuff!), and I don’t really talk about myself on this blog anymore. I’ve barely posted any photographs of me on here this year, so let’s change that right now before I launch into it all…

wind in my hair on Make A Gif

 

Ahhh, that’s better.

So here’s the skinny

I will try not to ramble on for brevity’s sake and because everyone has ADD, but perhaps you might take 5 mins to read this, as this post, like most of my posts, will be mostly photographs anyway.

I started off the year in London. It was rough from the beginning. I was freelancing a lot to pay my bills, but money was still tight tight tight! My friends kept insisting on paying for me just because they wanted me to come out and see them, but I felt pretty shitty about having my friends pay for me. I mean, they offered, but what kind of woman does that make me? Always relying on the generosity of friends? I refused the majority of the time.

Still I managed to have some wonderful early experiences in London, like being invited to speak THREE TIMES at Spark London, which is a live-storytelling event.

This below video is from my first and most popular story. It has almost 6,000 views on YouTube, I guess it resonated with people.

Also, as many of you remember, I was cast in Channel 4’s documentary series, First Dates. My episode, the premiere episode of the season, had millions of viewers and broke the internet. Here’s the trailer and some screencaps from my small screen glory:




But life in London was still giving me headaches. I won’t go into too much detail on this point, but I was being sexually harassed by someone who had stolen all of my contact details and had been to my house. I had to call the police just to get him to stop. I couldn’t even get him arrested, I could only get them to force him to stop. It was truly frightening to be the victim of something like this that was completely out of my hands. I didn’t know this person at all, and to have my details stolen like that and used for such nefarious purposes really shocked my system. I didn’t leave my flat for a week because I was petrified to walk outside and find him there. Bless the London Police, they were so kind and understanding and helpful and full of useful information.

But the money issue started to grate on me. London is too expensive for a freelancer like me, and when my uptight and awkward landlady (who would burst into my room when I was sleeping naked and demand I get her a paracetamol because she was sick… or would bore me to tears by yammering on about her ridiculous love life like it was any of my business) decided to raise the rent on me for no good reason, I decided enough was enough. London clearly doesn’t want me here, so fuck it, I’m leaving for something better.

Homeless

I consciously chose to be homeless. I stuffed everything I owned in the world into my backpack, and set off for mainland Europe. I didn’t have the money to pay rent, so I decided I just wouldn’t pay rent. I would get by with Couchsurfing and Housesitting. And those housesitting gigs would last for months, so I would get to stay in these cosmopolitan European capitals for free; places like Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels (and a smattering of smaller rural towns).

But it wasn’t easy. I was so broke that I was living off of €40 a week. A WEEK. That’s how much most people spend in one meal, and that is what I was LIVING off of for a week. There were some really lean moments where I was like, “Should I put the peanuts in the yoghurt, or have the peanuts as a side-dish?” For  example, the entire month that I lived in Paris, I only spent €150 in total, and that’s being generous. I couldn’t afford to take the trains anymore between cities, so I started hitchhiking… which any woman will tell you is, well, interesting. (The one time that I posted on Facebook about my hitchhiking, a friend that I haven’t seen in about 15 years since high school transferred money into my PayPal and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She was like, “TAKE IT AND GET ON A TRAIN DAMMIT” and I was moved to tears. People can be so kind). I’m ashamed to admit that I did a bit of dumpster-diving when I needed to. But the worst it ever got was when I was attacked in Brussels and in Paris. In Brussels, this guy smacked me right across the face in broad daylight. On the Paris Metro, I walked away with a huge welt on my thigh that lasted a month, and the tissue there is still sore, if I’m being honest.

Life as a waif isn’t all romantic and adventure. Sometimes it is pure depravity and despair.

But, for as bad as it was sometimes, I felt like going through all of this was good for me. Like I really needed it. The whole point is to go through a river of shit. The whole point is to crawl up a long ladder on your knees. That’s the whole point. Because it taught me exactly what I’m made of. I am resilient when the shit hits the fan. I am resourceful and crafty, sometimes hustler-charlatan, and sometimes the lucky beneficiary of the kindness of strangers. I never gave up. Going through the worst time of my life, oddly, was the best thing for me. I truly feel like the worst year of my life was also the best year of my life. I am so grateful this happened to me.

So how did I end up back in Toronto?

I was making some money freelancing, so I wasn’t completely in the shitter. I was even translated into Swiss-German when I sold a couple of articles to AufBau Magazine (and they paid me in SWISS FRANCS too! When you exchange that into Canadian dollars, it was more than double. I was like PIZZA FOR EVERYBODY!). But I couldn’t afford the planet ticket home. Then, the Polish Ministry of Economy who sent me on my #Polska14 adventure that you can read about here, paid for my transatlantic flight home. Without that, I would still be a wandering European nomad with no fixed address. So thanks, Poland!

Finding Meaning

Along this strange 12 month journey that was 2014, there were a lot of poignant and unique moments that will never come again. I was in Copenhagen during the Eurovision Song Contest, I was in Berlin when Germany won the World Cup, I was in Paris during the 70th anniversary celebrations of the liberation of Paris, I was in Amsterdam for their Remembrance Day, and I was in Brussels during Nuit Blanche.

I think one of my favourite moments of the entire year was in Amsterdam when my friend Laser 3.14 dedicated some street art to me.

But my favourite thing to do in all of these places (other than photograph street art, of course) was to visit the flea markets every weekend. Because I had no space in my backpack to actually buy anything of substance, the only thing I could buy on the flea markets were old love letters and monochrome photographs from 1900-1940s. The only spot I could keep them was in the space between my iPad and its case, because it was the only spot to keep them flat and safe. After a while, that little slot was bulging.

Here are some examples of what I managed to procure:

Most days I would spend all the money I had saved for eating on these photographs. I usually only ate 2 small meals a day anyway, and would load up on coffee during the day to suppress my appetite.







The small moments I never blogged…


Dancing with friends in London! Everybody in this photograph looks cool except for me. I need to increase my cool-game.

Celebrating World Cup in Berlin with friends! Aw Eric, tu me manques!

Enjoying the view of Berlin from the Klunkerkranich with my two favourite Germans!

Acrobatic performers at the Boxhagenerplatz flohmarkt in Berlin!

This photograph and street-art-hunt made it to the front page of WordPress!

In London, I was cast in a movie, and the costume/hair/makeup would take an hour every day. I was playing a 16th century Spanish lady in King Phillip’s court. My hair was teased, pinned, curled, and yanked within an inch of my life. That hat had to be SEWN INTO MY HEAD to keep it in place. And the corset & neck piece dug into my skin and took out huge chunks of flesh.

This is what my hair looked like after all the pieces were taken out of it.


Hanging out inside an 800-year-old tree in Copenhagen.


Overlooking Copenhagen!

At the Jewish Memorial in Berlin, which is a re-staging of a photograph I took of myself 8 years ago

Berlin olympic stadium … fuck yeah jesse owens.


Sachsenhausen….

Fireworks soar above the Brandenburg Gate the night that Germany won the World Cup

A massive drumming/capoeira parade in Paris that I just happened to stumble upon. They basically shut down Boulevard Saint-Denis!

Click on the volume button to hear! I made this and many other Vines, btw.

My last night in Paris, I cycled to L’Arc de Triomphe and just sat there, watching the city run circles around it.

Nuit Blanche in Brussels was a rainy, glorious night I will never forget. I love Brussels so much!



Overlooking the small medieval-walled village of Regensburg in the south of Germany.

Leaving Berlin, and for the last time too…

Dancing with the gang in Dalston… as all the hipsters do.

This was my housesit in Paris; a two-bedroom flat all to myself. Yes, I am a huge asshole.


And this was my housesit in Amsterdam. Being homeless isn’t all that bad.


Somedays I would wake up in my housesit and just be so happy!


Although, when I was Couchsurfing, some days I would wake up looking like this. Ugh. Don’t fuck with a recently-awoken woman!

Snugglecat in Brussels loves his kisses!


I saw Nils Frahm live in concert four times this year (for a total of 5 if you include last year).  Luckily he performed free concerts, so my broke-ass could still get a little culture. I saw him twice in Copenhagen….


…once in Berlin

…and then in Toronto!

Favourite 2014 Street Art Hunts


I found some amazing works this year, so it’s hard to pick the BEST, as everyone is a winner, but here are some highlights!
#1 Space Invader does Star Wars in London!

#2 Accidentally finding a Banksy in Copenhagen!

#3  El Bocho in Berlin, baby!

#4 Icy and Sot on the streets of Amsterdam!

#5 Finding 183 Space Invaders in one month in Paris!

#6 Jimmy C’s Ziggy Stardust mural in Brixton!

#7 Pablo Delgado in Dulwich!

#8 JR’s “wrinkles of the city” in Berlin!

#9 Roa in Dulwich!

#10 Phlegm in Dulwich!


Here are my greatest street-art hits from Instagram! What a year it’s been!

Favourite 2014 Albums

#1 Spaces by my beloved Nils. Although it came out in late 2013, it really picked up steam in 2014 so that’s why it’s included here. I would walk around my neighbourhood in South London (Crystal Palace) and would listen to Spaces as I wandered up and down the hills, and it kept me sane. Lend an ear to song “Says,” it will be the best 8 minutes of your life, I promise.

#2 Are We There by Sharon Van Etten. I would wander around Kreuzberg and Neükoln in Berlin, along the canal, sit on Admiralbrücke, drink a cola from the Späti, and listen to “Our Love” or “I Know” off this album and feel like someone else understood me finally.

Favourite 2014 Singles

#1 Enemies by Hannah Georgas. The song is simply gorgeous, but it was the music video for it that left me breathless. There’s something about that man’s face. I think it was his eyes. He broke my heart.

#2 Habits by Tove Lo. I know this song was pretty overplayed by the end of the year, but when it first came out, I would walk around Berlin during those hot summer nights when it’s still light out at 9pm, photograph street art, listen to this, and sing when I was sure no one was listening.

Favourite 2014 Films

#1 Grand Budapest Hotel, obviously! I saw this in London with Robin and we couldn’t stop talking about how great it was for hours afterward.

#2 Boyhood. I saw this in Berlin with David and he fell asleep during it, so it could have used a tighter edit (3 hours is too long, guys!) but it was still a tour-de-force.

Speaking of men…




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I was never lonely this year, let’s put it  that way.
Also… OMG BEARDS. EVERY MAN I KNOW HAS A SWEET, SWEET BEARD.

When it comes to the end…

Like I have for the past three years, I will be spending New Years in a country other than my own (2012 in Germany, 2013 in London, and now 2014 in….)

New York City!!


I’ll be housesitting (obvi) for a month (until the end of January) in the Upper West Side. Another place to live rent-free, another amazing city. I haven’t been in NYC since 2012 so it will be great to rediscover all my favourite places (Bushwick here I come!!) and also discover places I never knew before (I’m coming for you, Adele Bloch-Bauer).

NYC, like all the other cities I have lived in this year, is one of those places where you’re never bored. And if you are, you are doing it wrong.

So I’d like to end 2014 on a similar note:

“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say.
I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing.
So you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”

-Louis C.K.

2014 was never boring. May that continue in 2015.
See ya in NEW YORK CITY!!!


Paris: Art on the Streets, Art Deco on the Walls

This is the kind of street art that makes my spirit soar. This is stencilling taken to another level!

These wheatpastes are tagged “levalet.” Why does that name sound familiar to me? Lil’ help?

These paintings were hung inside Le Musée des années 30 (The 1930s museum, which was free the day I went because all national museums are free on the first Sunday of the month). I stared and stared at these paintings. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.


I took this photo on my last night in Paris. I wasn’t staying far from L’Arc de Triomphe, so I hopped on a Vélib, cycled over, sat on a concrete barrier, and watched the sunset behind the alabaster stones and racing roundabout. It was a hot evening, and I am better for it.

Goodbye Paris.


#C215’s Hydro-Electricity in Paris

Like most of my street art finds, I found this C215 piece on a hydro-electric box by accident whilst cruising on a Vélib. I love those little discoveries Paris affords.


Check out my C215 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!


Parisian History before your eyes


So I’m walking along Rue de Marcadet in Montmartre, a street and an area I know well because in 2012 I stayed on Rue Ordener, which is just around the corner… And I have passed this particular building at the Rude du Mont-Cenis intersection many times, and it always bothered me because I knew I had seen it before.


When you look at it, it really doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the apartment blocks around it. Rue de Marcadet has a lot of 19th century architecture still sitting next to 1960s-era function-over-form apartment buildings and tenements. So it’s a street that blends a lot of different styles, but still, this tower-like home just doesn’t fit in with anything around it.


So I’m staring at this building and then it hits me. I know exactly where I had seen it.


Here.


Isn’t it amazing how the building hasn’t changed at all over the passing of the centuries, except for maybe the paint job?! Usually in these types of buildings, some windows would have been bricked off, some entryways sealed to make way for different ones, and the wings and side sections of the building might have been destroyed or torn down due to dilapidation or misuse. Not here. Everything still stands. Even the skylights in the back from the 19th century are still there!

This is why I love Paris.

Check out this post from last year where I photograph some of the historical relics still standing in Paris.


#JR’s World-tour of the #InsideOutProject hits the Panthéon in Paris

As many of my readers know, I have been fortunate enough to photograph JR‘s work and his Inside Out Project in cities all over the world (so far, I’ve snapped him in NYC, Toronto, Berlin, London, Paris, and counting! Last year, I was even lucky enough to meet him! When I found out he had a temporary exhibition inside the Panthéon, the most popular secular temple in Paris, where great minds and activists have longed to be buried to throw off the shackles of religion, even in death, I knew it was worth the price of admission.

I’m just going to let the photographs speak for themselves.

 

HAND HEARTS!

HAHA, look at her face.

You should check out my JR Category for more of his pieces that I’ve photographed all over the world.

And of course, check out my Inside Out category. So many great portraits, changing the world.

While in the Panthéon, you have to check out the crypt in the creepy, dank cellar. It’s where the you’ll find the tombs of many of history’s great thinkers. This here is the final resting places of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas (Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, respectively). Remember last year in Paris when I found the spot where Victor Hugo witnessed the June Uprising, which in turn inspired Les Miserables?

I also found Zola’s home last year.

Yup, you are looking at the graves of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. DON’T TOUCH THEM, YOU’LL GET RADIATION POISONING! Hahaha, kidding! (Not kidding).

Bless you, Voltaire.  Also, have you seen Voltaire? Dude is a silver fox.


The Biggest Fricken #SpaceInvader Post Ever

I just spent a month in Paris, where Invader is from. And thanks to the addictive nature of the Flash Invaders app, which turns the streets into an actual 1980s video game, I ended up finding 183 Space Invaders. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-THREE, YOU GUYS.

Now, in order to prevent the onset of insanity (I was never sane), I won’t blog EVERY one here, just the best of the best. Which, granted, is a lot.

Enjoy!


The Mona Lisa, aka La Jaconde, near the Louvre.


Yup, that’s Pablo Picasso.


Invader, Cost, and ENX went tagging around Paris recently. Their posters and wheatpastes are all over, it’s really quite impressive, they hit up all arrondissements, it seems. If you’re paying attention, you’ll find posters that say “Cost fucked Madonna,” “Cost fucked Invader,” and several variations of this. High five to the NYC crew.


High up at Point Ephémère, but I spotted it anyway.


Remember last year when I found this exact same piece in Brussels?


I saw this piece from the Metro Line 6 as it was bombing along the elevated rail between Nationale and Chevaleret. I was heading toward Nation and wasn’t planning on getting off, but as soon as I saw this whizzing by my window, I got off at Chevaleret, and ran toward this. Epic win.


Clearly site-specific. ‘Vader saw the architecture of this facade, measured it, and made this piece to fit. Love how nothing is an accident, everything is carefully planned.


Unsafe to drink.


This one is behind plexiglass!


The Pink Panther’s To Do List:
-To do
-To do
-To do to do to do to do to dooooooooooo


This is either Robin Hood or Peter Pan.


This was one of my favourites. Mostly because A) PacMan and B) it’s considered two different pieces on Flash Invaders, therefore, more POINTS!


Here’s something similar! One park post…


…two park posts…


… three park posts!! All worth separate points on Flash Invaders! WOOP WOOP!


Fucking tarp.


This one is not only worth so many points on FlashInvaders, it’s STAR WARS! Remember when I found that Space Invader Star Wars piece in London last year? I’m beginning to think he’s not a Star Trek fan.


Hahahaha, get it? See how he’s referencing the name the courtyard? Ah, if ya don’t speak French, you’re missing out….


Is this what pacman looks like when he dies?


LEAVE US ALONE!


IT’S Q*BERT! I used to play this game all the time as a little girl. (I got love for you if you were born in the 80s)


This was found on the one day I stupidly forgot my camera at home, so this is an iPad photo. Sorry. (Ugh).


iPad…


FLAPPY BIRDS!


In a lot of these photos, I’m equally as enamoured with the ‘Vaders as I am with the Parisian architecture… look at that balcony… amirite!


This one is pretty funny. that’s a (destroyed) Vader on the left, and someone has mocked him in tiles on the right. Mega-lolz.


I saw this one from 3 intersections away (|Denfert-Rochereau) and like ran across 3 roundabouts just to photograph it.


As I was taking this photograph, two disgusting pervs started catcalling me, so I spit out my nectarine pit from my mouth and threw it at them. That’s become my latest defence: I eat nectarines on the street, and if someone says something obscene, I spit the pit at them. Trust me, I never had to throw my pit in the garbage once in Paris. Men are one-note garbage.


Hahaha, awesome.


The problem with street art is that it’s usually erected in areas that aren’t safe for women. So it basically turns women off from graff-hunting, or even being graff artists, because of the level of harassment. Half the time I didn’t want to go hunting because I knew I’d have to deal with men’s shit. INVADER, CAN YOU PUT YOUR STUFF UP IN SAFE AREAS PLEASE?


I think this one is a favourite. Space Invader makes the piece look like a street sign, so if you’re not paying attention, you wouldn’t even realize it’s there!


for this one, I literally had to run across the Peripherique highway to get it. Cheating death for ‘Vaders!


I actually didn’t think this was a real ‘Vader until I got all these points for it on Flash Invaders.


Aw. Oscar the Grouch!


See it?


This one is interesting and a unique ‘Vader for many reasons. 1) It’s been burned. 2) it’s 3-dimensional 3) it’s one of the few pieces that ‘Vader made in his original style – in that, it’s made out of rubix cubes. He used to make his pieces out of the the cubes, but he changed rather quickly to bathroom tiles and that has been his technique ever since. this old piece is a reminder of his previous efforts.

So, that’s a lot of Space Invaders. But remember, this isn’t ALL of the ‘Vaders I found! I swear! I just blogged the best ones here, so trust me, there are so many others out there that I found, and if you are willing to hunt, you can find them too!

Side note: hunting ‘Vaders is great way to explore Paris. You get to see different quartiers and arrondissements, it gets you walking and/or biking, and most of all, it’s free. And it’s so diverting. Highly recommended as a travel activity whilst in Paris.

Check out my Space Invader category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!


Word on the Street in Paris


This above and below is by Seth aka Globepainter, near Rue Mouffetard coming down from Place Contrescarpe. I love how expressive and bold they are, with the thick lines and rounded curves. And the childlike enthusiasm.

And the disappearing into walls…


Ha! Look at this slug trying to be a repairman! I think my favourite detail is the tool belt. I found this near Abesses metro station.


This is a classic Jef Aerosol piece that I’ve photographed many times before in other cities.


Nina Simone by Miss Me. The first time I found a Miss Me was in Montreal, but I also found her work in Berlin when I was living there this summer. She’s also in Paris! Good for her! Canadians are taking over the planet, just you wait. I found this in the hilly staircases of Montmartre.

TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY. by WRDSMITH

see him?


J’ai demandé à la lune….


I suspect the artist behind this carebear piece is the same artist behind The Kiss (pixelated) that I blogged about last week.


The following, including this one, were all found on Rue Denoyez. The last time I blogged from Rue denoyez was 2 years ago, and this time the experience was much less enjoyable, because of all the disgusting sexual harassment that happens in the Belleville area. I literally had to run in, photograph, and run out. I was being hounded at every corner. Seriously Paris, fuck you. Do something about your sexual harassment problem.

 

Arbeit Macht Lazy, huh?


There was no artist name next to this one, anyone know who’s behind this? It’s great, wasn’t far from the Victor Hugo museum…

Ha ha ha.


It’s an animal menagerie at Porte de Vanves.

Check out my Paris category for all the wonderfully cool finds I’ve photographed over the years, from street art to writer-hangouts to relics of the past, and everything in between.


The Kiss (pixelated)

Everyone knows Tanya Chalkin’s famous photograph, The Kiss. Someone in Paris has taken it upon themselves to create the mosaic-pixel version of this near Etienne-Marcel.


This is not a Space Invader, although it bears some of his hallmarks. For one, the women have been updated with Video Game attire.


I don’t know who’s behind this piece of art, but if you do, please let me know in the comments below!


Liberté, Egalité, Beyoncé

Found this on the streets of the Marais, just in time for this.

Say it with me now, class:

Je Beyonces
Tu Beyonces
Il/Elle Beyonce
Nous Beyonceons
Vous Beyoncez
Ils/Elles Beyoncent

WOMAN, MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?