“Residents pay more attention”, how street art makes Paris’ basketball courts sexier

Street art, a new string to Paris’ artistic direction? Strolling through the streets of the capital, passers-by and tourists alike can no longer miss the mesmerizing playgrounds that fill the neighborhoods, signed by a different street artist every time. From Duperré’s TEP (free-access physical education venue) in the Pigalle district to the adjoining Nelson-Mandela park near Les Halles or the Vincent-Auriol estate, in the heart of the 13th arrondissement, Paris adorns its streets with giant masterpieces, integrated into the furniture streets and in this case sports equipment. Why are we seeing this explosion of street art on outdoor sports fields? What is the project behind this decoration?

“The most famous and one of the first to be painted is TEP Duperré where even foreign basketball players want to come and put baskets there,” said Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of sport, Olympic and Paralympic Games. Game. This is the starting point for our reflections on the “Olympic heritage project”. A piece of street art integrated into a playground is all the benefit of being quickly executed, an improvement on Parisian sporting gear and conveying a strong cultural connection”. So much so that the land which is famous on social networks and especially Instagram from its visual side is almost a tourist spot in the capital city.

For Romain Froquet, a visual artist specializing in questioning the links around lines, and at his home playground near Les Halles, “to use beautiful sporting values ​​to convey an artistic message, it’s perfect”. And this is indeed a project of the City of Paris, which counts on 34 renovated and decorated sites on the Olympic skyline, thanks to deals struck with private partners. “If it were up to me, we would do it again,” said Pierre Rabadan again. In these highly urbanized places, it’s important to liven up and color the center of the building, in working-class neighborhoods like Stalingrad under metro line 2. This is the atmosphere we want.”

An “Olympic heritage project”

“In Paris, the outdoor courts were in a fairly degraded state, it was impossible in these conditions to include them in our “Olympic heritage project”, recalls Pierre Rabadan. Turning them into unique pieces of street art was the track that made it possible to rally the basketball federation and some of their private partners”. In doing so, City Hall has signed the first agreements with this federation and its partner Caisse d’épargne, as well as with the National Sports Agency for the renovation of 15 grounds, the last of which will be inaugurated in Parc Montsouris, in the 14th arrondissement. “It was made exclusively in shades of green because French Building stepped in and imposed limits”, explained the Paris city hall representative.

If the general specifications are not too restrictive, except for the obligation of place, certain classified districts restrain the artistic imagination used by street artists. “On the Champ de Mars, the two pitches that need to be renovated cannot be painted, we will try to work on the aesthetics of the baskets, but the French architects are very rigid”, reveals Pierre Rabadan, who adds that renovating the playground will cost around 50,000 euros. Romain Froquet did not encounter such constraints, “creative levels, I have carte blanche”, to convert the grounds near Nelson-Mandela park, and stamped his mark.

“Giving a sense of belonging”

“I involved several children in this project, as well as local traders, so that this place belongs to everyone,” recalls the visual artist. This is the dimension of urban art: giving a sense of belonging to all users who live in the district.” A point of view shared by Pierre Rabadan: “the district is proud to have such a precious and precious place. Residents pay more attention to it, the damage is much less. Everyone came out victorious.”

This also gave rise to more diverse access to these lands, once the site was embellished. “It’s really more interesting, especially for girls, who find this place less hostile, with more people, safer.” The mayor-elect of Paris experienced this during a visit to TEP Léo Lagrange on the 12th, “where many girls play”. It is also a way to bring more young people into the sport, by working with local associations to sustain the practice. “Basketball has a very strong affinity with urban culture, it is the sport that is most clearly associated with this unique playground,” said Pierre Rabadan. We also got to use handball and football, as we tested during the Euros with TikTok, and it worked really well ”.

“More street art cultural markers”

For now, it’s the basketball holding the strings. City Hall has also signed a partnership with the NBA, arriving in Paris on Thursday night. “The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons each financed street art murals at two sports facilities, one at Kellermann’s gymnasium in the 13th arrondissement and the other at Didot’s gymnasium in the 14th arrondissement,” completes Pierre Rabadan. “Sport and art, it is a very good recipe, Romain Froquet is also happy, who works in the lines of reason with constrained grounds and with the rules of the game. “The lines are everywhere in sports, graphically it is very attractive. And seeing people play basketball at the work you’ve done is great. You don’t do that with paintings,” he joked.

“In Paris, we have more and more street art cultural markers and we are very happy about it”, says Pierre Rabadan, citing specifically the 13th arrondissement, the Tuileries tunnel “was very gloomy at first”. “Even if there is an attachment to the ephemeral nature of street art, we are indeed working toward a normalization of this art form, which will allow us to shed the label of degradation that is too often attached.” “When we start street art, we know that it is ephemeral, that the street is a playground and that our work can disappear at any moment”, poet Romain Froquet. “But these are real works of art”, emphasized the elected representatives of Paris. See you in season 4 ofEmily is in Paris ?

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