< > Alchemy for Dummies 2: Lyon-Most Surreal Moments-Part Deux

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lyon-Most Surreal Moments-Part Deux

This is as posted by me in the Spencer Tunick forum :
Now from the already posted account of my trip to Lyon, you might think that I had learned no French at all. This would be incorrect however. I learned taxi, hotel, pardon, lampe ... hmm I detect a pattern here. Ah, I also learned pamplemousse-though I never had occasion to use it. How about bijou for jewelry? Ok, I knew that one already. Merci - that was useful. Excusez-moi and pardon -very handy when you are bumping ...elbows with naked strangers. But the word I found most useful was "Bonjour". And now to tell you why. I saw Spencer one last time on Sunday, and said thank-you. I noticed he looked very tired and worn. Kris and I, and Phillip parted company shortly after that. We had already said goodbyes to the others who had to leave. Kris hadn't originally planned to stay but called his boss and made arrangements so he could stay on in Lyon. I planned on doing some sightseeing, and did get a chance to visit the Roman stadium with Kris again helping out. Perhaps I should not have pushed so hard, as I was exhausted but I knew this would be my one chance. After the visit to the stadium Kris had to make travel plans for Monday. We had agreed he could take the floor of my room that night and we would go to the installation the next morning, before I had to catch my flight and Kris his train. I think I went to sleep around 1600 and never completely awoke till early next morning. By then Kris was lucky to have slept, considering I snore and I have sleep apnea. He probably wondered if I would awaken at all the next morning. But we were up early and we walked on over to the train station, Place St. Paul, moving extremely slowly due to my very sore feet. My infection had already started I think, and most likely I was not doing as well as I thought- but a lot can be said for adrenaline. When we arrived at the station it was very early and still dark but we were not the first ones there. The air was cool, but it warmed as it got light and was, I think, a bit warmer than the day before. Slowly the crowd grew, by ones and twos, sometimes by a group. Some walked, some rode bikes, and at least one woman came on a scooter. Finally we saw them moving small portable barricades. And then we were told we were going to separate the men and women, the women to go first to sign their release slips. They were taken away to Place Gerson, a small alley next to Eglise St. Paul, opening onto Rue St. Paul. We joined them a short time later, and people continued to trickle in. As most everyone had been in the shoot the day before there was a very festive air, and many people were shooting photos. I stayed with Kris for the most part just so i could find out what was happening. I did meet a couple of the other group members briefly. I was most surprised when Jonathan Porcelli said good morning, as I didn't know he knew me. Finally Spencer appeared, with a new translator. He then told us he planned to see if the translation worked by telling us two things, one funny and one serious. He then told us we were all going into the church to pose, then come outside and take a bath. The translator did his thing and everyone laughed. Spencer then said" Everyone get undressed." which the translator repeated and everyone was quick to respond. remember these were veterans now, and most everyone near me were out of their clothes in seconds. Meanwhile Spencer was having a meltdown. He hadn't meant for us to really undress, he was just testing the translation skills of the new person.Things were getting chaotic We all had to get dressed again, though most though it was pretty silly to bother to do so. Most of the people present were busy taking as many pictures as they could. I was so tired I forgot I had my camera with me. At some point along here, and Kris most likely remembers better than I , they told us that we might be doing a third setup. About this time someone handed out the instruction sheets, showing how we were to pose on the pedestrian bridge, Pass.St. Vincent. The women were to be standing with the men standing behind them on chairs. Rickety wooden folding chairs!! I could envision myself falling into the River Saone. That would be a dandy way to cap off my trip. Just then Jonathan came up and addressed me personally, saying they did not want me standing on one of the chairs. Whew! I was relieved to say the least. I was told to join the women when they undressed and move to the end of the line of them. Kris and I talked and I made the decision I could not stay for a third setup, as I had to catch my plane. Then the signal was given to have the women separate from the men again and undress and move onto the bridge. I could not get through the crowd to join them. And when I finally was able to undress and move out I was moving so slowly I ended up way at the end of the bridge. However they had not enough chairs to begin with as they had many more participants than anticipated so many of the men ended up just standing at the end that opened onto the Quai St. Vincent. By now on that end auto traffic was picking up and we had increasing pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well. This was near 0800. Several students and other people got quite a surprise on their way to work and school that morning. Some just went on by, some paused to watch. At our end we called out to them and waved at times, then we would get quiet to pose. After a few poses, most which seemed only to change the direction we were facing, as it was difficult to hear what we were to do, we were done on the bridge. Now back across the bridge to line up on Quai Pierre Scize. Women were to be standing behind the seated men this time. Once again my very sore feet put me at the very far end of the line, where we were all standing as there were no women left. Again we waited till Spencer was ready with traffic and cyclists passing us and only a few pedestrians, who were stopped when Spencer actually took the photos. The most activity was from the people in the apartments looking down at us. They were opening windows, standing on balconies laughing and taking photos. We waved and shouted back. Finally we were done. There was to be a third setup but I was tired and I had a plane to catch. And my feet hurt. So we started back to get our clothes. I was moving very slowly now, and everyone was pulling ahead to the Place Gerson. I had said goodbye to Kris a few minutes earlier. now I was walking slowly up the sidewalk, many meters to go be fore the alley. There were one or two of the security people still on the street at first but even they disappeared around the corner. Now I was just a naked man walking along a street in Lyon at about 0815 or so. I heard two laughing voices coming up behind me and soon realized that two young women in their twenties were making their way toward me. What should one do in a case like this? Running was out of the question. There was nowhere to turn into as it was still quite a way from the alley. So as they drew near and passed me on the left, laughing so hard they were leaning on each other, I drew myself up to my best posture, turned and called out in my most jaunty voice, "Bonjour!" which caused them to nearly collapse in laughter as one young woman replied "Bonjour!" And that was the most surreal moment of my life. I soon reached the corner of the alley, turned to find a few folks getting dressed, was asked if I was OK, which I both was and was not (already more ill than I knew), got dressed and found my way to the airport-getting lost briefly but with little real trouble, and later that very evening was home. All in all three wonderful days, not to be equaled or forgotten. Thank you my friends whom I met, to Kris for being my guide, to all in Lyon for being wonderful hosts, and to Spencer for providing a very good reason to get out into the world. I hope to see you all again in a future installation, but till I do; to past models carry on, and to you new folks WOW!, have you got a surprise coming!!!


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