Evian Pan

fiac 2016

FIAC 2016

Towards the end of the October, I attended one of the largest contemporary art fairs in Europe – la fiac 2016 (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain). A visual feast for 43 years now, the fiac gathers renowned galleries, artists, and art projects. This year the fiac had multiple locations, including the Grand Palais as the main location, the Petit Palais and the Tuileries as spaces for large installations and several other hor les murs, off-site locations.

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Here in fiac’s website you can take a virtual tour of the Grand Palais: http://www.fiac.com/visite-virtuelle-2016/

Photographie Argentique

vendredi 7 octobre

One of the classes I am taking this semester is Beginning Photography at the Studio Vermes. The original Skidmore in Paris has been working with this studio for multiple years and this friendship now continues with Skidmore in Paris’ collaboration with IES.

In fact, part of the motive that drove me to Paris is that I get the chance of taking this darkroom photography class, which tastes very differently from the digital classes on campus. In general, darkroom photography classes are hard to find anywhere because the technique itself is fading out from public interests, but I think that film photography keeps the experience of hands-on crafting within the artistic genre just as other types of art do including painting, sculpture, or textile.

Photographer Phillipe Vermes and his wife Nancy own the studio along with their assistant Mathias who is also a photographer himself. Many Skidmore students who studied abroad in Paris have taken the classes in the past. Checkout the studio’s website and you may find some familiar faces: http://studiovermes.blogspot.fr

I have had some experience in film photography before so everything all looks cool and excited for me. If you are a beginner with film cameras and developing, the procedures can be complicated because of its chemical nature, but it’s not hard to do at all once you’ve remembered the routine.
img_8544Mathias (left) explaining procedures to Qilin

img_8539The negatives of my first developed roll! It’s put on the light box for us to check the sharpness of focus and discuss the photos themselves in terms of lighting, composition

img_8548the contact sheet of the first roll

img_8547I picked my favorite among the photos in the first roll. This was taken at the Montparnarsse cemetery which is a very beautiful place to visit, also close to IES center


Boxes of photo paper for students. We each have a box of 8 by 10 and 11 by 14.


After the prints are developed, we need to wash the solutions away.


The box for keeping students’ work!

Final bonus:

Phillipe and Nancy’s cat Batouche. She is a very dedicated student, never sleeps in class.
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In the Heart of Rhône-Alpes

mercredi 28 septembre

This past weekend I took the two-hour TGV train and headed to Lyon. Where the rivers Rhône and Saône intersect, Lyon is filled with an ambience of historical legacy while expanding itself on the modern side of the city.


On Sunday, I rented the Velo’V city bike available to tourists and biked along the Rhône, from the southern end where Musée des Confluences is to the center of the city.

In cities like Paris and Lyon, the dialogue of the river and the city can last forever. Different from Paris where every inch of the bank of the Seine is carefully designed and constructed, then of course there are full of tourists, Lyon’s river culture seems to be dominated by the locals. Along my bikeway, many residents came out to the bank of the river to enjoy the soft sunshine, and many families took their kids out to the small recreational parks built along the river.

Certainly simply wandering in the city would not be my mission to rush to Lyon. I chose this weekend because one of my favorite artists is painting a mural, as part of a mural exhibition at the Musée d’Art Contemporain at Lyon.


This is me and Wen Na, whom I planned to visit, and her nearly finished mural in the gallery. Having worked as an illustrationist and designer, Wen Na started painting murals about six years ago. Her work cites styles of Chinese traditional figure drawing and mythological narratives, but, also which is why I love her work so much is that she did not draw from literature but created her own mythological figures. Each figure on the wall bears a philosophical idea that usually comes from Chinese idioms. Wen Na visualizes the phrases and invents her own contemporary mythological world.


Why she’s amazing again? She never does sketch when painting a mural. Always hands on with black ink and a calligraphy brush.


Wen Na told me that there are seven artists from around the world (Peru, Australia, Ukraine, Israel…) are participating in this exhibition. Each artist has two walls in the gallery and a third wall somewhere else in the city of Lyon. Someone painted in metro stop, the other one in an elementary school, and Wen Na’s is right across the art museum, on the outdoor wall of a cinema!


Above: Work by a Peruvian artist

When Wen Na took me around in the gallery, all of the other artists were working hard on their own walls. Even though the exhibition has not opened (because the gallery was totally a mess and artists haven’t finish it up yet!), the museum opens its doors to visitors and audiences can come in to see the artistic process and also talk to the artists.

One thing that really impresses me in France is that art does not seem to be distanced from the regular side of the world. Art is seem just as a way of communication, not something up high above. Artists are always willing and very enthusiastic when speaking to people about their work, and people value artists as they see the world from an innovative perspective. This relationship is very genuine and organic.

Well, I am completely satisfied when I was actually able to see one of my favorite artists in France. Now I am planning more trips and more visits to art museums. Follow me up!

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Above: pics from Saturday visit to Pérouges, a stone-built medieval town near Lyon

Graffiti, or street art?

samedi 10 septembre

What is the difference between street at and graffiti? What is street art, or graffiti?

This Saturday, IES organized a guided tour on street art in Belleville, a neighborhood in northeastern Paris, spreading on the borders among 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements.

Belleville is also where I live with my host family. The neighborhood is known for having high density of restaurants and the variety of cuisine also manifests the cultural diversity in this area. You can easily find delicious and fairly-priced food: Chinese dim sum, Vietnamese burgers and pho, Moroccan couscous, and more of Italian, Spanish, and of course fraçais! Belleville definitely offers itself to you for la gastronomie!

# a little bit of advertisement and pride of my neighborhood

Back to street art, IES staff invited two tour guides who are artists themselves and indeed street art lovers. One of them, Virginie, was very passionate in introducing different signs and symbols of street art.

The maturation of street art went side by side with the growth of hip-hop, and the emergence of street art in Paris had a recognizable influence from the United States. Many artists from abroad first came here to paint, inspiring Parisian expressionists to try out a new way of speaking out.

The core of street art is the eager of expression and no fear for a more sounding voice. Virginie described several well-known images, such as those by the Invader. The Invader creates different colors and shapes of mini aliens that randomly attach onto walls across all Paris. A few years ago, the Invader also invented a mobile phone game, asking players to spot as many invaders as you can. This might be a primary version of Pokemon Go!

Towards the end of the tour, we actually met some artists who were busy painting. In order to be distinctively recognized and remembered, street artists use different ways to let their work stand out: using brighter or even self-invented colors, creating their own fonts (signiture is important!), or painting a compelling subject.

Here are some photos of artists in painting motion:

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Hello everyone,

Hope you had a wonderful summer!

My name is Evian Pan and I’m a senior majoring in anthropology. This fall semester I’m studying  abroad in Paris, under Skidmore in Paris’ program The Paris Fall Seminar. The Paris Fall Seminar is a newly developed program in which one Skidmore professor travels to Paris and teaches semester-long classes there. This year the professor from my department, Professor Michael Ennis-McMillan will lead several students including me, to explore the multicultural landscape in urban France.

Author of How Paris Became Paris, Joan DeJean writes, “The magic of Paris, so carefully constructed in the seventeenth century, has never ceased to tantalize.” Each chapter of the book introduces the planning/architectural history of one well-known Parisian site, such as the Île Notre-Dame, the Place Royale and more. I read this book earlier this summer, imagining me to be at each of the locations during my residency.

How Paris Became Paris investigates the past of the city while our seminar looks at the contemporary form of French culture, with regard to race and ethnicity, the public and the private, and the West and Non-West. Students in the seminar take two classes, “Observing Paris (*cultural anthropology research methods)” and “Multiculturalism in Urban France” with Professor Ennis-McMillan, one French class, and one or more electives.

Beginning Photography will be my elective class. I have done digital and film photography on my own for a while and this will be my first class in studio. I have heard that our class works with film cameras, and we get a chance to spend time in darkroom developing our own photos. Since nowadays traditional darkroom activities started to fade out from photography curriculum, the class in Paris became a highly precious opportunity for photo lovers like me.

I took the header image of the blog with my film camera last year. The cool building in the picture was the French Pavilion in the 2010 World Expo and is now called M21, one of my favorite contemporary art museums in Shanghai, China.

Now I am departing from my home city Hangzhou, heading to Shanghai, and flying to Paris!

This is just a really short pre-departure note and writing this, I’m already sensing that I have so much to say about Paris and my life in France and Europe at large.

This is Evian reporting. Feel free to leave comments and questions if you’d like to know more about the program. More (recreation, travel, host family, etc.) to come!