I once blogged about my writing practice and process, and I feel this is a nice dovetail: my writing desk and space. We all need to carve out our own little nooks in this world, and this tiny corner is mine.
This where I do all my writing: all my short stories, all my blogging, and all my freelance articles are done here, including a little doodling and reading now and then. I decorated it like this because I think it reflects me and my personality best. Some people prefer really modern, sleek, office-y, stainless-steel-type designs, and others prefer a kind of non-descript, antiseptic look. But I wanted my space to be peppered with all of the things that inspired me, visually and spatially, and all the things that really mean something to me.
For example, these are my Lebanese grandparents making-out on their front porch in Montreal circa 1948. I typed out that Bukowski quote on my typewriter. All the picture frames were bought from London flea markets, but a few I found discarded on the sidewalk. Who throws out gorgeous picture frames?!
That photograph in the foreground of the two 1920s women pushing the pram: I have no idea who they are. I found them discarded on the flea market grounds in Brussels right before the sky opened up and an incredible tempest washed everything away. I feel like I saved them.
Those are Belgian telegrams, and also some French postcards ad German letters, which I bought from their respective flea markets. I typed out the quote at the bottom, and I found the image of the typewritten quote at the top online and then printed it out on photographic paper at a pharmacy in London.
I got the antique iron keys from a friend who bought them for me when I was living in Copenhagen. I typed out the Dumas quote, and it sits on a small blue photo album from the 1940s that I bought in Paris. The vase & saucer I got at a London flea market, and the typewriter ribbon tin I bought at the Brooklyn flea.
The pill bottles in the foreground I got at a flea here in Toronto. The red-cover books in the background are all travel guidebooks from the 1920s, 30s, & 40s. It’s so interesting to read about “where to find a public bathhouse in London,” or about how many Francs you can get for your Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, and Sovereigns. There’s even a section on why French customs strictly prohibits British matches from entering the country, but you can bring your own cigarettes. Also, air travel was so new, that they don’t really mention it. They only mention taking the ferry from Dover to Calais! The guidebooks have fold-out maps and even photographs. Looking at Amsterdam then and comparing it to now is such a mind-fuck.
That’s a Bukowski quote.
I bought that cigar box from a flea market in Düsseldorf. I put all of the small monochrome photographs that I bought from flea markets around Europe in there. A note about the photographs: I don’t know the people. I am assuming they’ve all passed, seeing as how their personal family photo albums were for sale on flea markets. I buy them because they look so happy. I like their faces. Also, sometimes going through private photos reveals some interesting secrets, as I wrote in an essay for VICE recently … And if they’re not in the cigar box….
… they’re hanging on my wall. From left to right, I bought him in Brussels, him in Copenhagen, and her in Paris.
That babe second-from-right is my Mum when she was 18. The rest, left to right, Brussels, Brussels, Berlin, and the child on the right is from Amsterdam.
These ladies are so old, they’re beginning to fade, but I love them all the more because they’re so bad-ass. On the left, I bought them in Paris and on the back it’s dated June 18, 1929. On the right, I bough her in Brussels, it’s dated August 18, 1922. She’s so fucking cool, I can’t even. I’m all out of evens.
Bought both from Brussels. Street scenes and street photography from the early 20th century are so amazing to me. I love the composition of the left photo! Right photo on the back is dated May 1942 and it says they just returned from shopping.
There’s my gorgeous bee-yooot. Read this for the story behind the provenance of this baby.
Some of the books that really moved me that are resting on my desk are All That I Am by Anna Funder, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.
I feel like I become a different person when I sit down at this desk. Outside, I’m gregarious and silly and hungry and moving and yelling and dancing and what not… but here, I am something else.
I have a lot more upcoming publications yet-to-be-announced, but now you know where I was when I wrote them.
Remember to update your links and visit the new home of ChristineEstima.com!
Recently I was invited on a personal tour of Station 16 Gallery in Montreal. I’ve been friendly with its founder Carlo for about four years now, ever since I facilitated an introduction between him and a local street artist. So when I told him that I would be back in my old Montreal stomping grounds, he took a couple hours out of his busy day to show me around the ever-expanding gallery.
Station 16 is located on Boulevard St-Laurent in the heart of le plateau, where the gallery’s presence has boosted the community’s economy and sprouted new growth and development for local businesses. Montreal was hit hard by the economic downturn, and there are still many empty retail spaces around. So Station 16 partnered with the annual Mural Festival to reinvigorate interest in this historical and trendy area.
The goal of Station 16 is to feature and promote local urban artists as well as international favourites. The great thing I noticed when I entered the gallery was how busy it was. Most art galleries are usually very quiet, with one or two patrons an hour, and the receptionists’ shoes usually cost more than your entire annual salary. For many people, visiting art galleries is an intimidating and perhaps snobby-elite experience that feels alienating and ostracising. Not Station 16. Kids, teenagers, families, tourists, street art enthusiasts, art collectors, and dealers abounded the ground-level gallery. It’s a very inclusive and welcoming experience, with a no-pressure enviro, and fosters a sense of community. I think that encouraging everyday people in the process of appreciating, critiquing, and collecting pieces of art is a good thing, and removes the exclusivity that surrounds the art world.
Pure Maple Sizzurp piece by What Is Adam, like an Warhol-throwback!
Took me a moment to realize those are guns.
Olek, my beloved guerilla-knitting-yarn-bombing babe with a clever turn of phrase here. This is actually a silkscreen of her work, but it comes out very 3D! It looks like there’s actual yarn in there! I’ve photographed her in Montreal, NYC, and London!
Le Diamantaire! You can’t turn a single corner in Paris without running into his street diamonds. They’re prolific!
Now this is my kind of toilet. The entire walls are covered in What Is Adam pieces, and what’s that on the loo?
It’s my boyfriend HANKSY!
Enzo Sarto is one half of my NYC favourite Enzo & Nio!
This is the back of Carlo’s computer! I see WIA, Stikki Peaches, Enzo & Nio, Shepard Fairy…. “Never forget how awesome you are.”
How could I?
Station 16 is located at 3523 Boul St-Laurent in Montreal, within walking distance from metro stops Mont-Royal or Sherbrooke. If you go, tell them Chris says hi!
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.
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.
Check out my C215 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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).
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
Found this on the streets of the Marais, just in time for this.
Say it with me now, class:
WOMAN, MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?