"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in Madame (2)


"I Love You Touch My Pieces" (Surrealist Translation)

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Pole Ka.

After a three-month break for other writing projects, we're back. Here is an interview in French, by writer Sophie Pujas, of the collagist street artist, Madame Moustache. (Thanks, Veronique Mesnager, for the link). 

Although we understand the French, I wanted to translate it (quickly) for those Paris Play readers interested in wonderful street art, especially collage. So I ran the article through Google Translate. There is something surreal and delightful to us in this fractured translation.


Richard's photographs were taken on a recent morning outing with Madame and her paste-up buddy, Fred le Chevalier, that began with a civilized morning espresso in an 11th arrondissement café. Madame requested that we not show her face.

Here you go:


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Madame Moustache: "I do not pretend to be outlawed" 
Art - Street Art

Madame Moustache, currently exposed to Sète in the K-Live festival, poetizes streets surrealist collages perfume and retro. 

Where are you from?

I come from a family of artists. My grandfather and my father were painters ... I have always refused to do. Although I've always drawn, I did not feel my shoulders to carry the family tradition ... I was an actress before becoming a designer. I made small drawings, collages, travel diaries when I was traveling, where again I stuck stuff ... I started to collage, because technically, with drawing, I could not express what I wanted. At the same time, I was hanging out in Paris with lots of graffiti. I made my first collage to the Canal Saint-Martin there is a little more than three years. It was a big monkey with an elephant's trunk. It is so fine that it has done me good, I found it easy. It was not crooked, I asked where I wanted ... I started small, and bigger and bigger.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Pole Ka.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache

Designer, was already an appropriation of space. He left something in your street work? 

I realize that yes. Especially since recently, I rotated on many objects - things that I can touch to act on it, slightly changing the meaning. In the same way that I am influenced by the images of Epinal. I always like this is a bit hidden, what does not discover at first glance. Hence the fact of choosing objects can I divert, lit and extinguished lamps, build boxes ... I love being surprised. When I like an artist, I like to be surprised that he changed support, colors ... I hate boredom, and I hate that I think of Lady ... So I try to diversify although I think I'll stick still in the street - I love it too. 


Why this retro universe?

I grew up in the workshop of my grandfather, full of old things, and I had the chance to let me touch it. Brushes, palettes, I tripatouillais ... There was a large buffet in his studio, under a large canopy, and I see myself with a book of gold leaf in hand, I had dug there, and he let me browse the sun ... I've always been in the permissive handling is also why I love you touch my pieces! I've kept this messy side - there is always something behind ... I'm very attached to the nostalgia, the taste of childhood ...

But it is a nostalgia plays with irony, offset ...

Always. I do not like people who take themselves seriously. I can not imagine work without me laugh. So I feel that people are laughing looking at my items. Since I put on the street, I need to create something. I did not want to stick something and people do not understand. Even if there is a double or triple meaning in one of my collages, I feel that the first reaction of passers-by or smile. They feel that there is something funny. I stick express day to see the reactions. I just stuck the night, at first, and it did not fit me at all. I am not a vandal, I do not claim to be outlawed. I claim nothing, if not tolerance or questions. I like to discuss, even with some who do not. I understand - I needed something sticky on the street!


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache
Why the question of identity, such as you take to heart?

Since forever, I asked a lot of questions about it. I think it goes back to a childhood trauma. I had very long hair and one of my friends asked me to play at the hairdresser. I thought she would pretend, and she cut my hair flush ... For several months I was treated boy! I hang with a lot of guys, I do not let me piss ... My work is also related to the fact that today I do not understand how anyone can still judge people on their identity or sexual preferences By what right? I think we're both in us, a little masculine, a little feminine. It is not necessarily predestined to love someone of the opposite sex, we have the right to try both, to test ... You brought me in tolerance.

Mustache with which you sign, it is the emblem of this claim?

Of course! I love bias borders. I like from saying stuff man, or vice versa this very girly picture: a very big makeup guy who rips the heart by saying ultra sensitive stuff you. I really like to mix the two, while trying not tired, not systematic or become redundant. In my cultural journey, I was also influenced by the punk that my brother loved or images transgender 80s.

Where are the images that you use for collages?

Magazines of the early twentieth century until the 70 maximum. After, colors and materials change. I like to keep some obsolete thing. I like the idea of ​​craftsmanship, this is a little damaged, we do not know quite where the image has been edited or not. This is still a story of transgression: transgression of the time, the style ...


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Fred le Chevalier.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Fred le Chevalier.
You feel close to a certain tradition of collage - surreal or Dada, for example?

Not at all. Of course, I was in the museum when I was little, and surely I have certain things. But I purposely avoided looking at, I do not want to be influenced. I do not want to dada! When I look at the pastels I did at one time, I think it looks the Chaissac. I did not do it consciously, but I had seen too kid because my parents loved ... And I do not want to spit out something that I was taught there a thousand years! I am afraid of being influenced, but also to compare me. I like to go see something else feed me art that does not look at all like what I do. I love art brut, for example, or photo.

Why decline on objects?

If it runs, is that it touches. I sell very expensive products, not as bags or serigraphs, so that it circulates. I do not pretend to live ...


Artwork © 2014 Fred le Chevalier
You feel in dialogue with other street artists?

Especially with Fred Knight [Fred Le Chevalier]. It much glue to one side of the other. Suddenly our dialogue works, and we're both big on words. He and I, we are very tortured, and is found on many points, such as the genre. But I do not necessarily seek this kind of dialogue. At the moment I tend to go to places where there is nothing. I'm a bit tired of places where garbage, when you arrive, there is already stuff loosely bonded, and finally where you can not see anything, there are more surprise. At first I tried a bit of dialogue with what was there, now it interests me less. And then I make bigger and bigger, so I need walls where there is nothing!


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache



No One In Paris Owns a White Truck


No one in Paris owns a white truck. Oh, they may drive one off the showroom floor white, but after a very short time (overnight in some neighborhoods) they are no longer trucks, or white, but mobile canvases that promote the work of the coming generation of street artists.



For the folks who own the trucks, this is the downside of street art, the point where they would probably say the practice crosses over into vandalism.



Some of these "artists" are simply taggers, in Paris Play's view, low-level wannabes who piss like wolves with magic markers or spray cans simply to mark territory, and leave their scrawls on the fronts of houses, on shop windows, on automobiles and trucks--in short, anywhere, just to say, "I was here." We agree with Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of New York City’s Queens Museum of Art, who says, “I can’t condone vandalism… It’s really upsetting to me that people would need to write their name over and over again in public space. It’s this culture of fame. I really think it’s regrettable that they think that’s the only way to become famous.” 

An article in the latest issue of À Paris, the official magazine the city sends free to local residents, makes a clear distinction between artists and taggers, the latter of whom cost the city €4.5 million ($5.82 million) each year in clean-up fees. À Paris said, "There is no question here of artistic practices on walls or dedicated street art…but those who defile façades and houses." After noting that the city's legal options are limited, the article concludes, "It therefore encourages residents and owners to complain, so that the damage will be treated as a crime and not as a fatality. Le graffiti sauvage is liable to a fine of €3750…up to €7500 for a public building."



A step up from tagging, the lines begin to blur. When enough tags accumulate, the result can be a collective collage that turns into a work of art. One of our favorites is this tiny work above, the locked gate at a long disused railroad tunnel in the 14th arrondissement. 


The graffiti crew "Spank," with their latest work on a "legal" wall on city property


And the next step up from tags as collage are the works of graffiti artists (individuals or "crews") who create larger spraypainted pieces with psychedelic colors and misshapen letters that carry our minds back to the Wes Wilson, Kelly/Mouse, Arab et al Fillmore and Avalon Ballroom posters that burst out of the Haight-Ashbury in that Sixties blaze of cultural and artistic ferment. We'd call those Bay Area-based artists godfathers to the graffiti crew phenomenon of the seventies in Philadelphia, then New York, etc., though the music that inspired those latter rebels was hip-hop, still associated, in many people's minds, with the larger calligraphic pieces that spread around the world, the gradual evolution of tagging into works of graphic art. 



(It's not our intent to delve into the arcana of styles, bubble-lettering versus wild style, or how different styles evolved in different ends of the same town, but anyone who'd like to add to our store of knowledge is free to join in the comments section.)

The final step (so far) are the full-scale works of art, with or without calligraphy, that Paris Play has been covering for the last two years, the urbain art movement that is filling galleries, exhibition spaces, and gradually museums around the world, and fetching prices even heftier than the penalties for tagging.



One of the distinctions that artists we've come to know here make is permanence versus impermanence. The organization Le M.U.R., whose exhibition we covered a few weeks ago, now has three billboard sites around the city, but each of those large pieces of billboard art only stays up for two weeks before it is replaced by the work of another artist. Street art, they believe, is ephemeral, ever-changing, which is why we are out at least three days a week documenting with our cameras what we see in the streets. It could literally be gone in a day. 

While street artists work in various media--painting, mosaic, wood blocking, yarn bombing, stencils, multimedia installations--many of the art pieces we photograph, like the popular work of Fred Le Chevalier, Kashink, Norulescorp, Tristan des Limbes, Madame, and others are "sticker art" done on paper, with wheat paste to adhere it to the walls, precisely because it is impermanent. Some artists like seeing their work decay over time; the process of decay is part of the life cycle of the work, and a comment on city living. The replacement of their work with other peoples', which also decays and is replaced by others, makes some street walls pentimento collages.         





But the spray-painted trucks are permanent, looking like rubber-tired versions of circa-1970s New York City subway cars. In some neighborhoods that have street markets a few times a week, where trucks are parked regularly in order to maintain a position on market day, it's an artistic free-for-all--trucks as chum for a school of art sharks. Walk along Boulevard de la Villette or Boulevard de Belleville in the 11th arrondissement (same street, it just changes its name near the Belleville Metro stop) and you'll see a free plein air gallery.




However, there may be a bright side we're missing. These could all be commissioned works, from crews like FD and 1984, whose work appears frequently. Perhaps the truck owners have simply hired a local crew to create some coherent, themed mural, rather than succumb to taggers with no taste. If you can't beat 'em, hand 'em your own spray can and stand back.






 If you'd like to see more, we posted our overflow pictures here