Où sont passés les cadenas du pont des Arts?

photo by Alexis Gautier

photo by Alexis Gautier

In May 2010, the Town Hall in Paris expressed concern over the growing number of love-locks on the Pont des Arts. According to the municipality, they were raising problems for the preservation of the architectural heritage. A few weeks later, the padlocks at the Pont des Arts mysteriously disappeared during the night of 11 May 2010. The administration denied responsibility. The answer to the mystery was found quite unexpectedly after a few weeks, when a new exhibition opened in Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. A student had made a sculpture with all the little sawed padlocks. The reason for the student to steal and break the padlocks was to challenge the tradition, which he considered to be insane and sentimental. After the padlocks were gone, they immediately began appearing on the Pont de l’Archevêché. As you can read in my earlier blogpost, today the Pont des Arts is already filled up with love-locks again.

On a French weblog that describes the artwork, a discussion appears. Some are simply surprised by the fact that the padlocks are used for an artwork, others are very agitated and angry with the artist. One contributor cynically states that the action confirms that the student is a ‘real artist’. Others defend the collaborative artwork of all the lovers that have put their lovelocks at the bridge, since it has become part of urban life in Paris[1].

The example nicely illustrates a debate that has emerged in art theory in the last twenty years. The debate is considered with the role of art in society, in fact an age-old question. Should art be disruptive and shocking? What kind of authority can be allocated to art? Or should art be participative and open? Read the post about dialogic art. (coming soon)


[1] ‘Où sont passés les cadenas du pont des Arts?’ http://kumo09.blogspot.ca/2010/07/500-ou-sont-passes-les-cadenas-du-pont.html July 20, 2010.


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