When you were working on this project, did you have have in mind what Walter Benjamin would think?
Inadvertently, Walter Benjamin gave me the title of the work, Paris, Capital of the XXist Century. I couldn't call the work just "Paris." It wouldn't describe what the work was truthfully about. This title stops anyone in their tracks from describing it as nostalgia. Nostalgia means for me, simply, 'dead tissue' and that is not exactly what this is about. The only part of the story that Walter Benjamin might have chuckled about is when I gazed at his German original edition of the Arcades Project, its title in Roman numerals, I thought it said, Paris, Capital of the XXIst (21st) Century. 'What a genius, I thought, to have come up with such an audacious title as that, as far back as the 1930s.' I simply had to use it! But on closer inspection much later, I discovered I had misread the title of Benjamin's book. The Roman numerals actually read, Paris, Capital of the XIXth (19th) Century. Nevertheless, I let my title intact.
What do you think the advertisements you used in the film say about this time period?
To answer this question, I must begin by explaining how I startedto make the work. I chose from a private archive in Paris, a collection ofads (several hundred, in fact) that firstly spanned the whole of the 20thcentury. Secondly, I selected those advertisements that I felt spoke to me personally, subjectively, about Paris. Most were made for cinema. Some inthe late '60s, '70s, and '80s for TV. Finally, I selected only those that I definitely could make an interventionwith and by doing so, become part of its life. This started to change thecontext and began a new narrative, taking thework into the present. To be precise, I thought of simply being a flaneur,walking through Paris (through its advertising over an entire century -- thelast century) thus making Paris, Capital of the XXist Century both have a past by my discovery in the present. And my contemporaryurge to make the spirit of Paris both regenerative and transportative. I wanted to bring back those forgotten desires -- build a house youcannot not fall in love in.
Do you have any updates on your Dior musical? You said you were interested in approaching Disney to produce.
This project has stayed in my heart for a long time. And as I strugglewith it, and will it into production, I believe it will emerge triumphant.
Photo by PatrickMcMullan.com