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The City (Paris), the Poet (Paul Celan), and the Artist (Alexander Polzin)
May 24, 2016, 12:00 AM EDT
At the end of May, the City of Paris will unveil a bronze sculpture honoring the post-war poet Paul Celan in the Anne Frank Garden in Paris’s 3e arrondissement. The artwork is by German sculptor, painter, set designer, and director Alexander Polzin, known by Parisians for his sculpture The Couple in the foyer of the Opéra national de Paris, Bastille. By installing this monument to Celan, the City of Paris is pro-actively using art to serve national memory and to advocate for tolerance among the city’s multiracial, multi-religious, and multicultural communities at a particularly challenging time in France’s history.
On the near-eve of the Mayor of Paris’s inauguration of the Celan monument, the sculptor Alexander Polzin will be at the Arts Arena in conversation with Margery Arent Safir. He will speak about his work as an artist, why Paul Celan, and the role of public art in historical recognition, its impact on the life of a city, and on contemporary awareness and attitudes: a particularly relevant discussion at a time when U.S. cities and universities are debating, or removing, public art that memorializes now-controversial historical figures.