Paris Street Art – City of the Invader?
As I started researching Paris street art, I kept finding that the city was rejecting or better yet “deleting” the amazing works created by Invader.
A couple of weeks prior to going to Paris, I was in New York City and was lucky enough to come across a couple of Invaders while I was there. While I had a couple of Invaders on my list of things to see while I was in Paris, my search for them prior to leaving grew because I really wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to see some while I was in his hometown. The last time we were in Paris, three years ago, I do not recall seeing these. Now Invader has well, invaded Paris.
Who is the Invader?
If you are not familiar with Invader, I am going to break it down for you quickly. He is a French tile mosaic artist whose work can be seen internationally. His inspiration for his works comes from, but not limited to, the video games he played while he was a kid in the 1980s.
He started in Paris with his mosaics in the 1990s and today this remains his main location for his work (now you understand why I wanted to do so much research prior to going!).
As for the actual man and his identity, he is like Batman. Nobody knows!?! Ok, so a couple people do but he apparently likes to keep his work close to himself which is why he sneaks around at night and installs his pieces. But know this for sure, he is on the forefront of what is going on in the Paris street art scene.
Looking for Space Invaders:
From what I have seen and as I understand it, Invader’s pieces are themed and created based on the location and no two pieces are the same. If are you heading somewhere and want to see if they have any there or if you think have seen one and want to confirm if it was, you can head to the Space Invader website or better yet install the Flashinvaders app on your smartphone. Just take a pic, and the app will check to see if what you are looking at is an Invader or an imposter. Then it will provide you with a lot of the below information.
The Invader documents all of his pieces and includes: catalog number (includes city name and number; example PA-45 would be Paris piece 45), the wave of invasion (which wave the invasion / installation occurred in), Invader (number of mosaics located in that city) and last but not least score. This is where gets fun!
Each piece is given a score from 10 to 100 which is based on the success of the individual invasions. When you click on a city, Paris for example, has a score of 38,210 which is a sum of all of the Space Invader there simply by adding all the scores together. Just in case you are wondering, more than a third of the Space Invaders are in Paris. This is Paris street art, Invader style.
My Journey To Look for Paris Street Art:
My husband and I decided we were going to make a game of it since we figured with map in hand and the number of Invaders we expected to see. The first hurdle was to come up with a key word or phrase to shout out every time we saw one. We both agreed on the phrase. Our taxi pulled up in front of the Pompidou Center because our taxi driver could not figure out where our hotel was located so we told him there since you can basically see it from there. I step out of the taxi and yelled, “Zitch dog!” Yes, I was already winning but now the actual search begins. Game on!
As we headed to the spots on the map, we came across Space Invaders but when we go to places where they were supposed to be, nothing! You could tell that there was something there previously. And then we got to Smurfette… Definitely a rejected piece of Paris street art!
Now to remove or deface these creative works is not an easy task to do. Most of his pieces are out of reach as they are usually located on the 2nd story of a building.
If you are damaging it or taking it down, you are doing it on purpose. In the past decade his mosaics were taking down by collectors, either to collect or sell so he made his works more difficult to reach and changed to a different tile that if you take it down they would be damaged and it will have to be recreated or heavily repaired first.
So, while the Invader estimates that approximate 15% of his early works have been removed to date, we went in search of pieces that probably more recent. In 2017, about a dozen of them were removed by men posing as city workers (Oh, and good news these thieves were caught in the act). I would assume that since there are more here, there are more to be dismantled than anywhere else.
If you want to see Space Invaders, Paris is THE place to come and see them! I would not necessarily come with a list of pieces to see since the majority of the ones we went to see were “deleted”. I would recommend wandering aimlessly or just walk around Paris to see the sites you want to see, and you will come across them. Just keep in mind to keep your head up and not in your phone. 😉
If you are interested in learning more about Paris street art, check out my blog on Butte-aux-Cailles.
Which way would you prefer to find Space Invaders? Fall on top of them or go in search of specific ones? Let me know in the comments section.
I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz.
© 2019 Nina Zee