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Paris and London. The city of light and the city of smoke. Rival capitals that, despite their many differences, have long been engaged in a special flirtation all their own. To introduce a few of those voices and places that make each city unique, we have created this special cyber-Eurostar.

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Paris et Londres. Ville de lumière et ville de la brume. Cités voisines qui, malgré leurs différences, sont liées de longue date par une relation particulière. Nous avons créé ce site, un “cyber-Eurostar” en quelque sorte, pour vous proposer des endroits insolites et des voix exceptionnelles dans ces lieux.


Paris invaded - again

Are his works art brut or just sophisticated street games? Whichever, the mutant mosaics placed all over Paris by artist Invader ( a.k.a. Space invader ) are ultra-familiar.

Witty deformations of characters from the 1978 video game, all boast big eyes, funky crab-like feet and benign demeanor. Part of an ‘invasion’ begun in 1998, these site-specific pieces now cover the city. To Parisians, they are as much a landmark as the métro signage.

A former student at the prestigious l’École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Invader chose to make his reputation in the street. For twelve years, always carefully hiding his identity, he has placed unique pieces in surprise locations. All are made out of square mosaics, attached with a special adhesive – and each location makes a special joke.

Says journalist Eric Loret, who was “kidnapped” to interview the artist for Libération, Invader sees his art as “a game, a form of viral activism and a political work”.

To celebrate his one thousandth piece, Invader threw one of the most engaging exhibitions in Paris. Free to anyone, Space Invader 1000 takes place in an old electric station built in the 19th century. (It is the current home of an art collective, La Générale). The expo features a wall showing every single Invader in Paris, a detailed map of how to find them and Invader’s personal scooter, which is covered in stickers.

There are also the artist’s “indoor” works, examples of what he has dubbed ‘Rubik Cubism’. Available in the upscale galleries of several capital cities, these are best viewed when captured as digital snapshots, hence the posted advice: “for a better view, use your portable phone”.

On display are also maps of other ‘invasions’ which have taken place in cities around the globe.

A clear Perspex column displays Invader’s special sneakers, whose soles are custom-molded to leave his mark anywhere. Plus, to top things off, there are plenty of items on sale. You can purchase stickers, individual maps of your own, a catalog of the exhibit…or a yummy Space Invader-shaped gauffre (waffle).

According to Loret, Invader terms his work “acupuncture”. For most Parisians, his art is indeed a cure for the blues. Both funny and friendly, it has become as ubiquitous as landmarks like the city’s Wallace Fountains or Guimard métro stairs.