Paris Bridge of Love Locks Now One of Sculptures

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Paris Bridge of Love Locks Now One of Sculptures
PARIS — For years, lovestruck visitors to Paris had affixed locks, often inscribed with their initials or names, to the wire mesh panels along the Pont des Arts, flinging the keys into the Seine River below. But last year, after a section of the bridge’s railing collapsed under the weight of some 700,000 declarations of fidelity, the city removed the locks, citing reasons of aesthetics and security.

Some people were pleased that what they considered a blight on the city was being eliminated. Others, however, expressed regret that they would not be able to participate in what had become a cherished Parisian ritual. City officials, while acknowledging the sensitivity of the issue, said at the time that they wanted to restore views of the Seine, which the locks had obscured. The pedestrian bridge connects the Institut de France and the central square of the Palais du Louvre.

Now the Pont des Arts, its iron grillwork freshly painted and protected by plexiglass panes, has taken on a new role, as the setting for an exhibition of sculptures by the contemporary artist Daniel Hourdé.

Paris Bridge of Love Locks Now One of Sculptures

The installation, “The Enchanted Footbridge,” opened last week and was to be formally dedicated on Wednesday evening. There are seven pedestals, eight statues, 10 reflective metal “trees” and a kinetic statue of a figure engaged in what appears to be a violent movement or struggle.

“I imagined a kind of hanging garden,” Mr. Hourdé said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, adding that the works made for a “metallic transition” from when the bridge was weighed down by the locks to its newly lightened state.

“All sculptures are on the verge of equilibrium, on the verge of rupture,” he said.

But, much as they were when the locks were removed, opinions were divided.

“I don’t know if I like it,” Cornelia Katsikotoulou, 24, a tourist from Greece, said Tuesday evening as she gazed at a gilded figure of Actaeon, a mythological hunter shown in the company of his dogs, baring their teeth.

“I get mythology, I get ‘Apocalypse Now,’ I get Olympics,” Ms. Katsikotoulou said. “I have to understand what it means.”

Charlie Saco, 70, a retiree visiting from New Jersey, offered his own interpretation of one of the works.

“That has to be something antiwar,” Mr. Saco said of a piece entitled “Le Ciel lui tombe sur la tête,” or “The sky is falling down on him.”

“Is that a plane?” he asked, pointing at a jumble of steel figures tumbling onto a sculpture of a man. Mr. Hourdé said that, in fact, the figures were letters spelling out the Greek word for sky.

Paris Bridge of Love Locks Now One of Sculptures

Mr. Saco did not lament the loss of the love locks, citing the danger their weight posed to the bridge.

Neither did Nicolas A., 31, a French photographer who would not give his last name. “When you have the locks, you have a wall,” he said. “Try putting a notebook in front of your eyes and now choose what you prefer.”

With the see-through panels on the bridge, he said, “The place has been reclaimed.”

On the Left Bank side of the bridge, a photographer for Dior photographed a woman wearing a salmon-colored dress.

The photographer, Zhang Jie, 29, who lives in Paris, said he missed the locks. He recalled one engraved with Chinese characters that read: “We’re not together anymore.”



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