So a Frenchman and an Englishman are chatting about a Korean man over lunch in Malaysia…. sounds like the start of some silly joke, but this really did happen about a year ago. Only the Frenchman is the director of the Louvre museum and he was speaking with an interior designer about the photographer Ahae, and his latest project; 2 million photos taken from the same window over 2 years.
Monsieur Loyrette was intrigued and a year later, “AHAE at the Tuileries” posters with a photo of a lone crane were lining the boulevards of Paris.
“What is AHAE” I asked Mr French, who avidly follows Beaux Arts magazine and listen about art on the radio every day on the way to the office.
“I have no idea, and we’ll probably never find out.
I didn’t protest. The photo looked like a shot from National Geographic. Technically perfect, but not overly compelling.
Yesterday morning though, we had a fantastic run, ending in the gardens near the Orangerie, just as they opened the AHAE exhibition for the day. There wasn’t a soul and entrance was free, so in we went.
The first thing we read was Henri Loyrette’s ode to the serendipity of the moment he first learned of Ahae. We were instantly intrigued. The first photos, hung on zen grey walls were gorgeous. He must have an gi-normous window, I thought to myself. But no, a few steps later and the exhibition showed the exact size and view from Ahae’s window in Korea. An ordinary window with an ordianry view provided the frame work for an absolutely extra-ordianary body of work.
Personally, I loved the abstract impressions on the water, displayed in an oval room, reflecting Monet’s waterlily galleries less than 250 meters away. Ahae laso has a fantastic eye for selecting wildlife shots that are particularly moving; magpies de-ticking a deer, a bird getting his neck in a twist to better contemplate the dragonfly squatting his tree branch and a Kingfisher just a nano-second from diving into dinner. There, among the wildlife work, is another window, exactly the same size and height as Ahae’s, this one looking into the gardens. I stood, there trying to imagine what Ahae might see that I missed, exploring a very familiar sight with completely new eyes.
The exhibition is free, but only runs until July 27, so if you’re here, go as fast as your wings will carry you.