In a world where differences between people and cultures often seem insurmountable, there are a few universal truths. Love is one of them. Who hasn’t doodled the name of a beloved on a scrap of paper?
Frédéric Baron has created a rather larger than normal place to doodle about love – le mur des je t’aime (luh moor day sjuh tem), which means “the wall of the I love yous.” Baron started by asking his younger brother to write the magic phrase in French. Then he turned to friends or acquaintances who could speak other languages. When he had worked through everyone that he knew, he turned to embassies to collect “I love you” in more languages. When he was done, he had three big binders with 1,000 “I love yous” in more than 300 different languages.
Next, Baron turned to artist Claire Kito to use her skills as a calligrapher to arrange the words. Their collaboration created a wall where “I love you” is represented in every major language and dialect in the world. The actual production of the wall was carried out by muralist Daniel Boulogne. The words are on enameled plaques – the same kind that Paris street signs are made of. Dashes and daubs of color represent broken hearts. The wall is located on the butte Montmartre on Jehan Rictus Square.
It’s an interesting concept. Walls usually divide people: the Berlin Wall; the wall between parts of the US and Mexico; the Great Wall of China, among others. The “I love you” wall, on the other hand, is a place of connection, of reconciliation, of peace.