Themes in Contemporary Art

Bernard Tchumi was an architect from Paris. In 1977 he published a series of drawings titled “ The Park” that depicted “a tale of murder, hunt, and arrest made familiar in the endless permutation of the detective story” (McDonough 117). The images shadow a wanderer and his victim as they follow a winding path through the park. The series began with the flâneur choosing his victim as he entered the park and then followed him “as stalker and prey mirrored each other’s movements through the labyrinth spaces of the park” (McDonough 119). The images showed the victim being murdered and then the perspective switched to that of the detective catching the murderer and incarcerating him. This series of drawings shows the dual detective and criminal nature of the flâneur. While the flâneur often was the character committing the crime whether it was murder, an act of illicit sexual behavior or something different, he may also be the detective hunting down the criminal.

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Vito Acconcias a performance and video artist, in 1969 he reenacted the experiences of the flâneur in his project, Following Piece. He made a record of surveillance for 22 days using photographs. The Following Piece depicted the criminal and detective-like behavior of the flâneur. It was difficult to determine if he was “the detective observing his suspect, or was he the sociopath stalking his mark” (McDonough 108). Like the behavior of the flâneur, Acconci spent “three hours trailing [an] unknown woman,” this behavior goes beyond pure curiosity and is stalking. The artist would disappear into the crowd; as a result the victim assumes that it was simply a coincidence he was behind her for a prolonged period of time, rather than suspicious behavior. The perspective of the flâneur allowed viewers to see the whole story, at one point he was the criminal stalking his prey and in another perspective he was the detective following the criminal in order to solve the case.

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