The Cat & the Peace-for-Paris Sign - Le chat noir et le signe Peace for Paris - 53/130 © 2016 CHANT WAGNER
130 Street Photographs after the Paris Attacks - 130 photographies de rue, après les attentats de Paris - In Memoriam
Three months and a half (only?) after the November Paris Attacks, a paper sign representing the iconic Jean Jullien Peace for Paris sign is holding up despite its intrinsic fragility. It has begun to tear apart but is still mostly intact...
On a February afternoon in the 6th arrondissement of Paris - far removed from the sites of the attacks - the house cat sat next to the sign looking out to the street, unvoluntarily stressing a contrast between quiet, everyday domestic life and a horrific event which sent shock waves throughout France but also throughout the world.
Those shock waves are still reverberating, in particular for the survivors of the attacks, with reports of tremendous suffering and grave physical mutilations filtering more now than right after the mass killings as the French media concentrated then on the dead. In the US, the press would have probably reported sooner tales of survival but in France, there are cultural reasons for not seeking out and privileging survival stories.
On that occasion, the French found out with some fresh surprise that their culture is universally seen as emblematic of the Enlightenment ideas of liberty, modern human rights and sensuous joie de vivre - of which perfume is an undissociable element. The phrase "French perfume" carries a cohort of luxury and aspirational connotations with it.
As Parisians expect possible new attacks, and as some superstitious persons believe that black cats are a bad omen, there is an element of ambiguity to what can be felt through this image, although this adorable cat was just being a cat - but also can be seen as being a bit on the look-out.