Entrance Through the Gift Shop (Stade de France “Urban Art Exhibition”) -A.Dahlen

What, Where, Who, When:

An urban art exhibition in Stade de France featuring: Banksy, Dain, MCattee, Pure Evil, Shuck One, Tank, Ben Eine, Dtagno, Nasty, Shepard Fairey, Sun7 and Teurk. The pieces were for the occasion by the Lebenson Gallery Paris and by Stéphane Chatry. The exhibition is open from 3 April- 30 May 2012.

Why: “For the first time ever,  international street  art is settling into the heart of football’s enclosure, within the Stade de France’s unique setting. This is not a chance meeting for those two worlds. They represent the most popular sports and cultural forces of this day and age. They both share the same values: fighting spirit, exceeding one’s limits, representativeness.”

My thoughts:

Sounds intriguing, right? Or at least I thought so. Being a fan of Banksy, upon hearing about this “Urban Art Exhibition” and viewing some images online, with the added bonus of free entrance- I had my heart set on going. So I convinced a friend of mine to go with me and we took the RER to Stade de France. We arrived at the stadium and had a walk around, pretty confident to find some signs indicating where this exciting show would be. Unfortunately, there was no such thing. I had checked the dates of the exhibition online and was sure I could not be mistaken so I decided to ask one of the guards by the stadium for some direction. I asked the guard politely if he spoke English, which he did not, so I proceeded in my limited French to ask him about the Urban Art Exhibition. He had clearly never heard of it and told me to go ask another guard. The next one didn’t speak any English either but seemed to understand what I was asking him and told me to go inside and walk to the gift shop.

Hesitantly I did as I was told. When I entered the gift shop there was a sign in the back that indicated some sort of exhibition. I walked in and noticed posters about the construction of the stadium and different musical artists who have performed at the venue. This kept going for 2 rooms and still found no signs of the urban art. Seriously peeved, I went back in the gift shop and asked the cashier. Luckily, she spoke English and told me that I was on the right track and the urban art exhibition was in the last room.

There it was, tucked away, through the gift shop and three rooms of the permanent exhibition, were the whole 12 pieces of urban art. If I don’t sound impressed, it’s because I’m not. Not only was it a mission finding the venue but it was also a complete false-advertisement. From the list of urban artists I was expecting more than exactly one piece of art per artist advertised. It was pathetic. The cashier came to see if I found it alright and asked me for my opinion, I tried to respond as politely as possible and tell her it wasn’t quite what I was expecting and it was a little difficult to find. She told me that she had heard many complaints about the size of the exhibition and that many visitors were disappointed. This gave me a strange sense of comfort. My friend, I think was even more disappointed than I. On the way home we discussed how Banksy would feel if he knew one of his pieces was being displayed in an venue where you need to enter through the gift shop.


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