Seen from Paris, blog about Paris

You thought Parisians are witty, arrogant, bitching about everything and anything, obsessed with food and culture, and always up for discussion? Well... you're perfectly right! And you're on the right page to check it out.

A new artist squat arises in Paris: le BLOC!

Creative, ambitious, huge… Le BLOC is the new artistic lighthouse of the City of Lights

As some old famous squats are about to disappear from Paris’s artistic landscape, such as la Miroiterie or la Kommune, a group of artists found a huge hidden gem…

And huge it is. Seven floors. 4 basements. 7000 square meters. A massive creative liner waiting for its crew to sail the seas of art… This abandonned governmental building from the 70s was simply sitting there, empty, when the artists seized it in the name of creative freedom (and creative needs) and settled in as a community of almost 200 people. This artsy arch was dubbed BLOC, as an acronym of Batiment Libre, Occupation Citoyenne (Free Building – Public-Spirited Occupation)

Of course, once again the craving for a self-management experience is obvious. It is to be found in all artistic community experiences, as as well as in the name, just like in la Kommune which referred to the anarchist revolution of 1871. In le BLOC, the echoes goes through the Occupy Wall Street movement, or the French Droit au Logement, both willing to empower citizens versus deviant admisitrative systems, and to allow the taking of empty useless buildings…

Now, with artists workshops, recording studios, and even a business openspace, le BLOC is an ambitious hive aiming at developping all kinds of different things in a great emulation atmosphere.

Street artists find here a very special home, and walls are slowly yet regularly disappearing under murals. Names of the cutting-edge Paris scene are blowing everywhere, like Djalouz and his trompe l’œil, Kanos and his fine energetic lines or Yosh’s crazy colorful shapeless characters… And so much more! Even the two lower parkings, flooded and in the dark, host amazing murals from different artists (Caligr, Doudou, Codex Urbanus…) which are now sealed, waiting to know what will happen next…

The art is litterally boiling there, and as a new page of Paris art History seems to be written at le BLOC, a new form of chroniclers take the experience’s vibes to eternity: the light painters. On the 5th floor, several light painters explain their arts and navigates through the BLOC to write in lights the chronicles of this community life. Between graffiti, caligraphy and photographys, they are probably the next big thing to look at. One of them, Vincent, a member of a light painting crew called Light Club that also teaches people how to paint in light, is one of the few members of le BLOC to actually put his name on an official document.

Because, as one can easily imagine, it is not exactly legal to occupy a state building, and no matter how enthusiast one can be about it, several threats are looking at le BLOC with an evil look. The biggest one is legal: a law suit, an eviction… That’s why one person’s commitment, like Vincent’s, to sign the papers and obey to the authorities convocations, is not only necessary; it is also brave and deserves a whole lot of respect.
To avoid the loss of the space, the team of Le BLOC acts as a lobby, displaying as much as they can what they do over there, inviting visitors and the authorities to discover the place and its inhabitants, and promoting its existance. The aim: to get an occupation licence that would legalize the squat. But the road to this is hard and dangerous, and no time must be lost in not only talking about le BLOC, but also visiting it!

Le Bloc regularly hosts “Portes Ouvertes” that allows anyone to visit the place. Or you can simply walk by and ask to be shown around… It’s well worth the experience!

Le Bloc is located 58 rue Mouzaia, in Paris 19th District. (Metro Pré-Saint-Gervais)