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Project Details

The Par Avion Project

Short Description and Goal

The Par Avion Project is an interactive art exchange. Its concept was loosely based on the of the French Surrealists’ parlor game called The Exquisite Corpse in which one person begins a drawing and others add elements to the drawing until the image is complete. Fifty artists were invited to participate, half from Boston, USA and half from Strasbourg, France. The artists were assigned “visual pen pals” from across the Atlantic. The art was created in three layers. Working in this fashion required artists to incorporate marks, materials and compositions that were foreign to their own visual vocabularies, one universal sentiment emerged: this process challenged each person to stretch artistically. All 50 artists embraced a found object and somehow made it their own.

Detailed Description

This interactive art exchange celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Boston/Strasbourg Sister City Association. In the summer of 2011, the participating artists (25 from each city) created 16 inch x 20 inch artworks on paper. After completion, these works were collected, photographed and shipped across the Atlantic par avion.

The background art was randomly distributed to our 50 artists and they added a second layer of imagery directly on top of the first, similar to the French Surrealists’ parlor game The Exquisite Corpse. When this phase was completed, the works were returned to their country of origin, completed and exhibited.

The http://www.paravionproject.com/ website documents contain the evolution of that process. Some pieces display a visual dialogue between strangers while others contain layers so dense that you cannot see what came before. From pure abstraction to classical nudes, this collection of artwork is filled with ingenuity, history and humor; an anthology of techniques from drawing and painting to silk screen and gold leaf.

After asking the artists to incorporate marks, materials and compositions that were foreign to their own visual vocabularies, one universal sentiment emerged: this process challenged each person to stretch artistically. Essentially, all 50 artists embraced a found object and somehow made it their own. One artist aptly said, “This project was like creating a reply to a message in a bottle.”

“The Par Avion Project’s advantage is the alchemy of collaboration, which can take surprising turns. The uncertainty of what may happen next frees these artists to simply play.”
Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe

Initiated by

  • Boston/Strasbourg Sister City Association

Initiators are

• Public institution

Project Website(s)

Project Topics

Arts & Culture, Heritage

Level / Project Complexity /

Small

Participating Cities

  • Boston, USA
  • Strasbourg, France

Sizes of Participating Cities

• 20.000 - 100.000
• 500.000 - 1,5 Mio

Participating Countries

  • USA
  • France

Project Region(s)

• Europe
• North America

Additional Media & Attachments

    Media Credits

    Claire Healy and Sean Cordeirdo: Par Avion, installation View, Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco, CA, December 10, 2011 — January 28, 2012, www.paravionproject.com/