OPINION: Shepard Fairey’s Eiffel Tower Installation Reflects The Freedom Of Paris

Shepard-Fairey_by-Lucie-Lesvenan-This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International1

The famed street artist Shepard Fairey has recently revealed his contribution to the climate and sustainability debate in Paris, ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP21) in the french capital. The artist’s massive sphere – a truly global Christmas bauble for the city – dangled between the first and second floors of the Eiffel Tower.

The artwork, titled ‘Earth Crisis’ represents the planet’s environmental crisis which is being addressed by the international delegates at the conference. It was also a reminder of the city’s recent terror crisis – as one of the first major cultural events since the horrific attacks of Friday 13th November 2015. The suitably monumental work was suspended by cables, the globe was an impressive 2 tons in weight – floating above the Parisian crowds – some eight metres in diameter and covered in geometric floral patterns incorporating depictions of threats to ecology.

The artist told Wallpaper: “My political stance on protecting the planet is driven by my concern for the quality of life for future generations,” Fairey told Hypebeast at the unveiling: “I’m not an alarmist, but I do think people need to understand that we are facing an earth crisis. I think it is exciting that the globe provides different experiences for the viewer from a distance and up close while living in the heart of the Eiffel Tower,” the artist explained, adding: “I hope the Earth Crisis globe appeals visually but also generates a needed conversation about the fate of our planet.”

In light of the recent terror attacks on the capital that claimed 130 lives, the artist was acutely aware of the added significance and timing of his artwork. “The project has a greater degree of weight and I don’t know if I’m worthy,” he conceded.

But Artlyst considers the creation of the first piece of street art to be mounted on the Eiffel Tower, a timely symbol of the city’s cultural force, ability to overcome, and to present the future of an international art scene unencumbered by fear.

The work was, in fact, a well-timed if unintentional act of defiance – regardless of Fairey’s initial inception – it has become a signifier of the capital’s ability defy those who would damage its society and culture – through its first truly grand international gesture of creative freedom since that terrible act was perpetrated on the people of Paris.

Fairey stated of the work: “I hope that looking at how interconnected things are, which is part of the aim of the piece, will encourage unity rather than fear and division.”

Words: Paul Black © Artlyst 2015.

Photo: Shepard Fairey by-Lucie Lesvenan This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International1


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