video :: :: maps :: :: out-of-sync :: :: Photos of installation :: :: Marcel Bénabou :: :: Essay by Tim Murray
Searching for rue Simon-Crubellier




Searching for rue Simon-Crubellier is a video/sound installation, which is part of a cross media project that also includes the Internet site The 4th Floor. The project was begun in Paris in 2004 while doing a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts. The work takes as a point of departure the experience of being Australians in Paris and reading George Perec’s book Life a User’s Manual. In this book Perec creates a puzzle of a novel set in a building located in the 17th arrondissement of Paris at number 11 rue Simon-Crubellier.

Searching for rue Simon-Crubellier is a process-based, interdisciplinary and conceptual work. It is an actual search for an imaginary place -- exploring actual and imagined relations to place. In searching for rue Simon-Crubellier, the work poses the question: is it possible to bring something that does not exist into existence by searching for it?


In the first part of the work we ‘performed’ the encounters of Australian travellers in a foreign place looking for a particular street. We set out from the Cité and began our search in the 17th arrondissement by stopping strangers in the street to ask directions. “Excuse me, we’re looking for rue Simon-Crubellier.” Like most searches there was a mixed response, especially as our search entailed a microphone and small video camera. We were directed to one official location after another – the local council, the national archives, the library of maps, the planning department etc, until a month later, we ended up at Sully Morland, one block from the Cité, at the department in charge of map-making for all of Paris. Even more uncanny than the physical full circle of this search journey was discovering that the person in charge of that office had been a neighbour of Perec’s, who ate lunch with him regularly.

To help us with our search we asked Marcel Bénabou the Permanent Provisional Secretary of OuLiPo for help and advice.

Our search also raised some interest with French radio –two Australians, coming from so far away to look for an imaginary street in Paris. The French internet radio station ArteRadio interviewed us and even followed us around the 17th one evening.

The second part of the work is called The 4th Floor: le quatrième étage which was curated by Timothy Murray and commissioned by UK based Mute magazine.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Cité Internationale des Arts and The MacDowell Colony.