If you have seen the excellent film by Banksy about Street Art, Exit Through the Gift Shop, you will be familiar with "Space Invader", the French street artist, introduced in the film as the supposed cousin of "Mr Brainwash". Space Invader or Invader makes mosaics of the pixellated low-res characters from early 1980s video games then, starting in Paris, they are put up on walls around a city as an invasion. Several cities around the world have now been "invaded" but Paris is where it all began and I believe there are now over 1000 of the characters stuck up on the walls and buildings there. Not everyone approves, but my children have always loved Banksy's stuff and spotted their first Invader piece when we were in London a few years ago. So when we were in Paris a few weeks ago, staying at no. 53 Rue de Turennes in the Marais district, they were delighted to find a large space invader next door to us. That was the start of there game where a scoring system was devised to see who could spot the next one. I cheated and spotted more when I went out jogging, so my score was the highest, but by the end of our trip we were all walking about the streets of Paris craning our necks upwards the whole time, peering around corners to see who could spot the next one. Here are a few we took snaps of. One of their favourites was spotted from on a train outside Montparnasse station, a Nintendo mushroom, but there are hundreds more out there. If it has a number and points beside the photo below that's for the anoraks out there, Invader's own naming system and points score. Go have a look!
|Rue de Turennes|
|At the Metro station across from the Catacombs, Paris|
|PA_575 50 points|
|"PA_746 50 points"|
|PA_926 30 points|
|The wee Octopus guy underneath |
is spreading too
|PA_682 30 points|
Q-bert, in the Marais, good game, better mosaic
|PA_769 50 points|
I think Invader is getting peeved at some of them being pulled down?
|Opposite the Pompidou Centre, someone has added a ship shooting at it, made from Lego|
|A Galaxian at Place de la Bastille, PA_555|
|My favourite, a sombre black one near Père Lachaise cemetery|
"PA_961 50 points"
A day-trip to Chartres to marvel at the medieval cathedral soon became a day of "who can spot the next Invader mosaic in THIS invaded town?"
So Invader has started a rash of other street artists/ vandals plastering their stuff over Parisian walls, with varying degrees of ability and imagination. An honourable mention goes to Gregos who has casts of his face eerily pushing through the walls all over the place.
Or what about a bit of humour from Clet Abraham, "Lifting the Taboo".