Fiona Tan’s balloon flight

Posted by on Juin 18, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

In the morning of January 14, 2000, Dutch artist Fiona Tan (b. Pekan Baru, Indonesia, 1966) gathered fifty large red helium-filled balloons, affixed their strings to a harness and was briefly lifted into the chilly winter air above Amsterdam’s Sarphati Park. The activities were photographed and filmed by her assistants as well as by some press photographers. She drew the attention of passers-by walking their dogs and/or their children. Tan: “This was a dream I have had for a long time, ever since childhood, in fact.”

In Het Parool newspaper, Tan was quoted as saying, “The balloons make me go upwards. They are lifting me up.” Her flight was recorded for posterity by a professional film camera and a simple video camera.

The flight was successful; earlier Tan had worried whether the fifty helium balloons would be enough to carry her 50-kilo body, but they did. At times she was as high as 5 metres above the ground.

After a few short flights, Fiona returned to earth, loosened the balloons and handed them to the surprised onlookers.

The event, seemingly inspired by the final scene of The Red Balloon, was a work of art. More specifically, it was the basis of a “film & video installation colour, silent digital betacam safety master, dvd, 16 mm filmprint, monitor 14 inch, dvd player, table, film projector 16 mm, no-rewind, electronic sensor, white projection screen”. As such, it became part of Tan’s solo exhibition at Paul Andriesse Gallery, Amsterdam, in September-October 2000. An image of Tan in flight was also made into a silkscreen print (108 x 64 cm); selected black & white images were on display as well.

Fiona Tan above Sarphatipark, Amsterdam, February 2000

Art critic Douglas Heingartner wrote in Frieze:
“Lift (2000) . . . was well documented, yet only a few stills of Tan suspended in mid-air were included in this show, alongside several freeze-framed images of children with balloons. By encouraging the viewer to imagine their own version of her flight, Tan addresses the fragmentary nature of memory. Think, for a second, of a long-lost friend: the image in your head probably isn’t a film loop or video, but rather a still frame, blurry around the edges, perhaps a bit shaky, like a videotape on pause. The stills from Lift are, like our own memories, tentative, tenuous, possibly manipulated. Tan doesn’t withhold the registration of the event; she simply presents one version that requires more input.”

Fiona Tan told an interviewer that she “wanted to make an uplifting, hopeful work. Suddenly I had the image of flying with balloons. Around 1900 everyone seemed obsessed with photographing and filming the first experiments in flying. There exists an odd film of a tailor who jumps off the Eiffel Tower with home-made wings attached to his arms.”

Jacquine van Elsberg, writing in Skrien magazine, was the only reviewer mentioning the project’s references to The Red Balloon.

S. Monshouwer in Kunstbeeld (2000), p 16-17
Jacquine van Elsberg in Skrien (November 2000), p. 66
Kees Keijer in Het Parool (18 January 2003), PS van de week, p 26-29
Douglas Heingartner in Frieze

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Le Farceur in rue Piat

Posted by on Juin 12, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Roland-François Lack of The Cine-Tourist writes —

“In Philippe de Broca’s Le Farceur (1960), which is all over Paris, there is one brief shot of the carrefour Piat.”

Le Farceur (1960) 21’56”

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Malambars and Carambars

Posted by on Juin 11, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Ketty Belhassen, a former resident of 16 rue Vilin, recalls going up the stairs at the end of the street and frequenting the Boulangerie-Pâtisserie — the same one as visited by Pascal in Le Ballon rouge (Furore 21, p 63). “The boulangerie was open on Sundays. Every Sunday my father would give us 50 centimes each and then we would run to the boulangerie and buy our malambars and carambars, which cost 5 centimes then.”

In 1954, Mr Fauchille, director of the Delespaul-Havez company, and his employee Mr. Galois had a surplus of cocoaand decided to create a new, original recipeto use it up. The legend says that one of the machines in the factory was malfunctioning, making the long bars that still exists today. This sweet, in the form of a bar, was christened Caram’bar (with apostrophe). Inside of the wrappers, there were “Caram’bar points” which could be redeemed for various related products until 1961 when points where replaced by jokes. In 1972, the name changed to “Super Caram’bar”. In 1977 the name lost its apostrophe.

The sweets are now manufactured by Cadbury France. Official website:

Raspberry, caramel and strawberry flavour

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The Lamorisses visit London

Posted by on Juin 1, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

In the summer of 1957 the Lamorisse family visited London, England. During a ceremony at the French Institute in South Kensington, Albert Lamorisse was presented with the British Film Academy Special Award for Le Ballon rouge. Afterwards, outside, his seven-year-old son Pascal held the strings of 50 red balloons; at his father’s word he let them sail into the air. Anyone who retrieved a balloon could exchange it for a copy of the book which is adapted from the film’s screenplay.

Lamorisse père then helped the assembled photographers who were taking stills of Pascal. Papa clicked his fingers above his head. Pascal looked up and the cameras recorded the expression that had endeared the boy with the red balloon to millions of picture-goers all over the world.

Pascal Lamorisse (7) signs autographs for female admirers. His mother (behind him) looks on.

(From an article in Films and Filming)

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