Thomas arrives into Paris in the middle of January 1793; he’s on a mission from the Friends of the People movement in Scotland. Events overtake him and his mission evaporates within days of his arrival. However he quickly integrates himself into city life and stays for 3 months. On his second visit he arrives as a hero escaping British justice and is given a civic welcome but he’s wounded and exhausted and the Directory, his benefactor, are unpopular on the street. He stays for 6 months between December 1797 and May 1798, at one stage in Passy, until he runs out of money.
Relationship with place
Paris 24th - 28th April 2017
I made this Paris series while exhibiting in ‘Salon de Montrouge’ curated by Ami Barak in 2017. I was invited as part of the Commune's celebration of a long running institution; I had taken part in this series of shows way back in 2000. In 2017 I made 2 public works ‘Slow Prototype’ and ‘Relative Gravity’. The first was a photograph of my dad, Jim Buchanan stripped to the waist holding two saws across his chest. It was beautifully printed onto beer mats and distributed at La Quincaillerie Generale the café in front of the art centre. The 2nd artwork was a paired down photograph of my mum, Stella Buchanan, holding a football next to her head. This image was distributed as a poster around the area. On the day of the opening I couldn’t find any other English speakers, so I wandered off. I went to see a fantastic Walker Evans exhibition at the Pompidou and the Atelier Brancusi on the square outside. It was an uneasy time in Paris, the policeman Xavier Jugele had just been shot and killed on the Champs Elysees by a suspected Muslim jihadi and Emmanuel Macron had just been elected.
Tom spoke good French but was clearly foreign. His cloths made in Scotland looked different to those he saw in Paris. Outward symbols of allegiance were important and he had difficulty recognising the different between a Guard and a Gendarme. Things were unclear even to Parisians, it felt easy to use the wrong form of address and end up in being confronted or chased. Streets were being renamed and building repurposed. He would reach an address and the people he wanted to meet were no-longer there. His list of contacts and letters of introduction were for people who’d been important a month ago and were now out of favour.
Salon de Montrouge paid €200 production cost for the artworks & €200 towards travel expenses. I stayed in the apartment of my friends Elise Parre and Pierre Antoine in Ménilmontant.