A large umbrella can shelter two, friends, lovers, acquaintances or even (in the case of a sudden downpour) complete strangers. Since 2013 Le Mouvement, a collective of Paris artists, have been connecting pairs of friends and strangers under shared umbrellas and transforming their photos into collages, pasted on walls throughout the city.
Les Parapluies is participative street art with an idealistic message. The couples united by chance under a common shelter come from different backgrounds, cultures and generations. By posting positive images of interaction across boundaries Le Mouvement aims to support action towards a society which (in approximate translation) is ‘rich in diversity, in which social and cultural difference is not an obstacle and in which artistic expression is a means of facilitating sharing and better ways of living together.’
(Click on any photo to view the gallery).
Although Les Parapluies started out as illegal street art, the collective have always worked in broad daylight, interacting with passersby. Gradually official tolerance changed to formal approval as local authorities recognised the positive messages of the project and started to commission installations on public buildings.
The paper collages often don’t last long – I’ve missed photos of several that I’ve glimpsed once and found missing when I returned with a camera. This installation on the windows of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, dating from December 2015 and now rather faded, is something out of the ordinary. Commissioned in homage to the victims of the November 13th terrorist attacks, these collages reaffirm the possibility of overcoming cultural and social differences to build a stronger community.
The people sheltering under the umbrellas are not the usual cross section of society as they are all ministry employees. For a glimpse of the full variety of Parisians sheltered under the project’s umbrellas, here’s the link to their Facebook page.
This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge One Love.
One love refers to the universal love and respect expressed by all people for all people, regardless of race, creed, or color.