The authors in François Schuiten’s studio in Brussels.

Under the dome

Page from volume 2 of Revoir Paris, published in October.

Page from volume 2 of Revoir Paris, published in October.

The authors in François Schuiten’s studio in Brussels.

The authors in François Schuiten’s studio in Brussels.

The authors in François Schuiten’s studio in Brussels.

The authors in François Schuiten’s studio in Brussels.

A 232 R Baltic locomotive and its tender (1946-1949), and a marine steam engine (1855), both on display at the exhibition “Machines à Dessiner.”

A 232 R Baltic locomotive and its tender (1946-1949), and a marine steam engine (1855), both on display at the exhibition “Machines à Dessiner.

A 232 R Baltic locomotive and its tender (1946-1949), and a marine steam engine (1855), both on display at the exhibition “Machines à Dessiner.”

R comme reflet La règle, ici, pour que le roman s’invente : qu’un mot en reflète un autre et qu’il en brouille le contour. De billard à pillard1, le reflet trace la route.

1. Dans Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres, on apprend que c’est la transformation d’une première phrase, «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard» en cette autre «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard», qui a produit le roman Impressions d’Afrique.

R as in reflection A ground rule for constructing the novel: each word always has to reflect another, blurring the contours. From billard to pillard,1 the mirror effect paves the way.

1. In Roussel’s How I Wrote Certain of My Books, we learn that the novel Impressions of Africa is based on the transformation of the opening phrase“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard” into this other one“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard.”

Graphic novel authors François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters are presenting an exhibition at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in conjunction with their latest book, a poetic, futuristic vision of Paris.

Benoît Peeters and François Schuiten know Paris, “capital of desire,” inside out. The former was born there, the latter, originally from Brussels, soon headed there to publish his first graphic novels. In Revoir Paris, a beautiful dream-like science-fiction diptych, the two authors have fun reinventing the city by combining utopias with real architecture. “We are not trying to create a believable image of what Paris will be like in 2156; it’s a contemporary reverie,” explains Peeters. Embarking on a subtle process of reconstruction, they “haussmannized” one neighborhood and made another disappear, because its “false modernity,” they felt, clashed alongside that of the Centre Pompidou. By following their heroine, Kârinh, who knew Paris only from books, we discover the city as it has never been seen before: placed under a dome like a futuristic island, with a perfect climate. People can even swim in the Seine! “It is a city that’s iconic in the same way Doisneau’s was, as if it had been staged for the movies,” says Schuiten. Inside this mischievously imagined paradise designed with a hint of irony, the Musée des Arts et Métiers occupies a special place, as the authors have a long-standing attachment to the museum and its flying machines. In 1994, Schuiten and Peeters redesigned the Arts et Métiers metro station in the capital’s 3rd arrondissement. By cladding it in sheets of copper, they made it look like the Nautilus, the huge cylindrical submarine dreamed up by Jules Verne for his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. To accompany the second volume of Revoir Paris, the duo have designed an astonishing exhibition being held, fittingly, at the Arts et Métiers. Called “Machines à Dessiner,” it brings together steam engines, astrolabes and telescopes borrowed from the museum’s collection of scientific instruments. “We focused on machines that are rarely put on display,” explained Peeters. “Removed from their context, their aesthetic qualities highlighted, they seem to metamorphose into sculptures.”

REVOIR PARIS. LA NUIT DES CONSTELLATIONS

À paraître le 26.10.
Éditions Casterman.

MACHINES À DESSINER

Du 25.10 au 26.02. 60, rue Réaumur.

Tél. +33 (0)1 53 01 82 00.

www.arts-et-metiers.net

© François Schuiten et Benoît Peeters - Vladimir Peeters - Musée des Arts et Métiers-CNAM. Photo : Hélène Mauri

Agenda

The Odyssey, by Jérôme Salle, and Things to Come, by Mia Hansen-Løve, two films shown at this year’s festival.

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A festival
with a difference