About flâneur look into the past or about... Cover Image

O flâneura spojrzeniu w przeszłość albo o antyturyście (na marginesie cyklu Szary Paryż Bogdana Konopki)
About flâneur look into the past or about...

Author(s): Katarzyna Szalewska
Subject(s): Essay|Book Review |Scientific Life, Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego

Summary/Abstract: The paper concerns the relationship between the flâneur (a category common in the contemporary anthropological discourse) and the past. The Baudelaire’s and Benjamin’s figure of flâneur is defined as opposite to the conception of tourist (in the meaning Zygmunt Bauman attaches to it), and flâneur’s gaze is compared to the one of photographer’s, while taking sophisticated pictures of the city (as the subject of the paper are the shots of Paris taken by Bogdan Konopka, gathered in the cycle Paris en gris). Flâneur can be seen as a kind of historian-amateur, who – doing his stroll – ‘reads’ the city’s past written in the architectural monuments, in the maze of the streets and courtyards, and seeks the ‘passages’ into the past (in this special meaning ‘passage’ – the term commonly referring to the arcades – is a metaphor naming a process of meeting the past, as well as a unique place in the space of the city, that makes this meeting possible). But the past is never there. It is gone and the only way to make it present again is to read its traces as allegory (according to Paul de Man, allegory – unlike the symbol – refers to the emptiness left after its referent’s disappearance). This is the way one can interpret the photographs taken by Bogdan Konopka. The emptiness of the streets, no human beings, just buildings, walls, doorways, gates and windows – all those elements, taken in a grayscale – can be understood as a metaphor of looking for the non‑existing past, seeking the passages into it, reading Paris as the allegory (in a very de Manian way) of its own no-more-existing-past – just in the way flâneur would do that.

  • Issue Year: 2009
  • Issue No: 08 (15)
  • Page Range: 45-60
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Polish