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HomeParis TravelThe Renaissance of Le Défenseur du Temps ⋆ SECRETS OF PARIS

The Renaissance of Le Défenseur du Temps ⋆ SECRETS OF PARIS

In 1999 I lived within the large Seventies condominium advanced on the north aspect of the Centre Pompidou referred to as the Quartier de l’Horloge. The bottom degree had a couple of outlets and pedestrian passages connecting the Rue du Grenier St-Lazare, Rue St-Martin, Rue Beaubourg, and Rue Rambuteau. It wasn’t a very enticing place to hang around (as 70s structure in Paris hardly ever is), however its namesake mechanical clock (l’horloge) made it price a detour.

Le Quartier de l’Horloge
Le Quartier de l’Horloge at present

Le Défenseur du Temps, created in 1979 by the French artist Jacques Monestier, is greater than only a clock. It’s a dramatic automaton sculpture of a hollow-eyed brass soldier that involves life each hour from 9am 10pm to struggle in opposition to time, represented by a rooster (symbolizing sky), a crab (symbolizing sea), and a dragon (symbolizing earth). Simply earlier than the hour, a soundtrack would come on, first with drumbeats to announce the time, then sound results of crashing waves and a windswept clifftop to accompany the clanking mechanical actions, harking back to an previous sci-fi movie. In between the hourly battles, the dragon’s stomach moved rhythmically out and in, his breath marking the passing of time (and, extra importantly, letting you understand the clock labored).

Right here’s a video from when it was first put in (you possibly can see the road behind it nonetheless underneath building as your complete Beaubourg district was razed and rebuilt):

Sadly, it stopped working in 2003 (simply eight years after its final restoration in 1995), and for some time, an indication hung from the statue claiming it will quickly be repaired. However it by no means was. I not stay within the Quartier de l’Horloge, however I used to cease there with tour shoppers every time we have been close by to indicate them the clock. Right here’s a photograph I took in 2015, the place you possibly can see it coated in chook poop, a pigeon fortunately perched on the warrior’s head, and the signal under it stating that an affiliation was gathering donations for its restoration (together with a QR code…however who can attain that top to scan it?):

Le Défenseur du Temps in 2015
Le Défenseur du Temps in 2015

In 2022 the Berlin-based French artist Cyprien Gaillard determined to revive Le Défenseur du Temps. I’m undecided why the unique artist didn’t do it himself, though maybe it’s as a result of he’s in his 80s now. From October 2022 by January 8th 2023, the newly restored clock is on show at Anticipations Lafayette (9 rue du Plâtre, 4th) as half of a bigger exhibition by Gaillard referred to as Humpty/Dumpty.

Le Défenseur du Temps at Anticipations Lafayette, December 2022.
Le Défenseur du Temps at Anticipations Lafayette, December 2022.

For this exposition, you possibly can see Le Défenseur du Temps battling each quarter-hour (so…much less of a wait time), with a couple of little actions in between, and two totally different soundtracks to accompany the animation. The modern exhibition house, opened in 2018 in a multi-level loft house between the Centre Pompidou and BHV, offers a pleasant setting to observe the automaton from under, at eye degree, or from above, relying on which ground you’re on. You possibly can learn a Wallpaper* interview with Gaillard in regards to the present: Cyprien Gaillard on chaos, reorder and excavating a Paris in flux

Le Défenseur du Temps at  Anticipations Lafayett
Ready for Le Défenseur du Temps to begin transferring, at Anticipations Lafayette.

There are indicators all through the exhibit in each English and French, and some benches to sit down on when you watch for the “present”. Entry is free (mediated excursions can be found in French), and there’s a good café and a small guide/present store. Open each day besides Tuesday, 11am-7pm (till 9pm on Thursday). Closing at 5pm on December thirty first, and open exceptionally on January 1st.

You probably have missed the exhibit, you’ll be capable to discover Le Défenseur du Temps again in his authentic house within the Quartier de l’Horloge (8 rue Bernard de Clairvaux, 3rd) from March 2023.

The Quartier de l'Horloge without the clock.
The clock will quickly return to its house within the Quartier de l’Horloge…

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