The House of Photos

Contents Unknown Due to Lack of Appointment

Maison de la Photo (13k) Paris:- Wednesday, 15. May 1996:- I thought the Maison Européenne de la Photographie was a new Paris museum, but it is not. It started off in Les Halles in 1985 as the Espace Photographique. In 1988, the city of Paris chose the 'l'hôtel' de Cantobre at 82, rue François Miron, which it had acquired in 1914, to be the Paris museum of photography. The present entrance is just around the corner from the old one.
I was unable to see the current show, 'A Contemporary Adventure - Photography 1955 - 1995,' part of which is devoted to 'new photo-reporting.' When I arrived at the reception today - just like anybody else - I said I was a reporter for the Internet, and asked if I could I take some photos of the interior of the museum for Metropole - and I was politely told no.

This, my friends, is the reality of the new photo-reporting today.

Legally, nobody is allowed to photograph anything in Paris without permission. Visitors are generally ignored because they do not know this and they have no idea of where to get permission. In fact, getting permission to photograph everything you might see, is impossible.

If you are walking around town and you see - a photo opportunity! - and you shoot it there and then, what you have done is illegal. Somewhere, somebody, owns the 'right' to the image of the thing you've photographed. Presumably, since we're talking nonsense here, this applies to sidewalk painters as well.

What the city does not own, the state does. What the two of them don't own, is private property. Even the airspace belongs to France. It makes no difference that the city and the state in fact 'own' nothing - the city and the state are 'owned' by the people who pay the bills.

People's faces are private property even if they wear them out in public.

So consider this for a moment: the only place it may be legal to make a representation of something, is in the privacy of your home. Admittedly, a lot of artworks were made in interior ateliers; but still - exactly where were these 'new photo-reports' taken? Photo-reporting isn't done inside a photography studio.

Just think, as you wander about all the photo expositions there are in Paris, looking at all these wonderful photos that are captures of infinitesimal fragments of time fixed forever as images - just think that it would be illegal to shoot them today.

With the amount of photos I take, I am a big-time criminal. I even have the cheek to claim copyright for them. I was there, I pressed the shutter release; the resulting 'image' is mine. The object photographed probably was not mine, but I do not claim its copyright - only the copyright on the unique image of it that I caused to be created. This exact image cannot be duplicated, unless you were standing in the same place at the same time and used the same camera as I did, and all this is clearly impossible.

For all I know the interior of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie is dark and dingy with spider webs in corners, and is too hot and has poor air circulation and pay-as-you-go toilets. For all I know it is bright and airy and the photos are well-hung and without glare to mar their surfaces - and they are truly stunning photos. I hope so. I helped pay for them.

(All the images you see in Metropole are copyrighted. You can copy them without permission for you own pleasure. You are not allowed to reproduce them or sell them and keep the money for yourself.)

Carved in stone (5k) Maison Européenne de la Photographie,
5/7, rue de Fourcy, Paris 4.
Métro: Saint Paul or Pont Marie.
Admission price - 30 francs. Reduced rates - 15 francs (for under 26 years old and over 60). Free entry for children under 8 and for people with disabilities. Free on Wednesdays from 17:00 to 20:00. Access to the library is included with the admission ticket.

Open 11:00 to 20:00, closed Monday, Tuesday and holidays.

Group visits and guided tours can be arranged by appointment - for a maximum of 30 people.

All the Exhibition rooms are wheelchair accessible. The Library is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with a colour magnifier to help the visually impaired read the documents.

Tel.: (33-1) 44-78-75-00 - Fax.: (33-1) 44-78-75-15. Web site:
http://www.pictime.fr/maison-europeenne/


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