Paris Meridian Walk


Paris Meridian Walk documents an impossible attempt to trace the entire 8 kilometres of the Paris Meridian in one day in September 2011, resulting in 890 photographs taken with the camera strapped to my body. The context for this performance is the history of western time measurement, which was founded with the determination of meridians around the world. The walk reveals, step by step, the disjunction between this premise and the physical world, and how we lost contact with embodied measures of time.

The course was difficult. I was often lost. I had no map and no phone. I only used the Arago medallions as a guide: the 136 bronze medallions that the Dutch artist Jan Dibbets planted in the asphalt in 1996. But the path was not direct, as I had to navigate many obstacles. There were boulevards, hills, and shopfronts, small houses, the Louvre, the Seine, and caf├ęs that had expanded their premises over the sidewalk. 

Paris Meridian Walk, 2011.

Many medallions had also disappeared, lost or stolen, or vanished under layers of concrete. Without the object to provide the north-south direction, I could not place my body on track. But whenever I found a medallion I regained a grounding in the world and I could move onwards. However, if the next medallion was missing, I was rendered aimless again. Every time I came across a hole where I knew a medallion used to rest, I was saddened. And I was also sorry when people did not seem to notice the magic beneath their feet.

Paris Meridian Walk, 2011.

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