This summer, after years of eager anticipation, the world’s first ever floating urban art museum has finally opened its doors on the river Seine. A campaign had urged Paris locals to submit their proposals to “reinvent the Seine” – and Fluctuart was the winning idea, bringing the vibe of urban Parisian streets to the masses.
At first glance no different from any other bateau-mouche moored on the river, Fluctuart has presented surprisingly little publicity to suggest otherwise. Yet for those who stop to linger, a peek inside will reveal a feast for the eyes with everyone from sharp satirist Banksy to futuristic artist and gothic graffiti writer Rammellzee represented.
Expect a minimalist chic theme, with light and airy open-plan interiors and huge windows showcasing the rippling river outside. The simplicity of the boat’s design is a deliberate effort to accentuate and draw attention to its walls, which are lined with the main attraction: thousands of euros worth of paintings.
The venue’s name is a wordplay on the phrase that has become Paris’s motto in times of trouble – “fluctuat nec mergitur” – or, in English, “[She is] thrown [by the waves] but never sinks”. The Marchands de L’eau (Seine Boatman Corporation) introduced this phrase back in the fourth century to boost bravado. It has also taken pride of place on the city’s coat of arms since the 1300s, but this pledge of commitment to solidarity is made all the more poignant in the wake of the storms Paris has weathered over recent years, from terrorist attacks to the part destruction of Notre-Dame cathedral.
Plus for those who like to analyze the meanings beneath the surface of art, Banksy’s painting, Rage: The Flower Thrower, might be a match for the venue’s emotional theme. Perhaps the flowers are a metaphor mocking the perceived powerlessness of a raging enemy to cause permanent harm. The message? One of a city in solidarity that always rises again in spite of adversity, riding the waves and mastering them no matter how turbulent the storm.
Besides the likes of Banksy, the venue is also home to many other artists’ exhibits. For instance, Fluctuart has imported some fighting spirit from Brooklyn, New York, via street artist Swoon, who describes herself as “a pioneer for social rights”. Her space in the spotlight will run until September 22nd.
Besides the various art displays, there is a bookshop, a rooftop bar, scheduled DJ sets, dining options with a street food style to fit the urban theme, and of course panoramic views over Paris to soak up while enjoying a fun and convivial atmosphere. Arts, books, music and many facets of urban culture are all crammed into one scenic space.
As far as modern art venues are concerned, although not yet quite as lively as the likes of the Atelier des Lumières, Fluctuart promises great things to come and is definitely worth exploring.
Here’s all the info you need to plan your visit:
Nearest Metro Stations: Invalides (line 8 et 13), Champs-Élysées Clémenceau (line 1 and 13), Franklin D. Roosevelt (line 1 and 9)
Access: Pont des Invalides/Paris Viie/Port du Gros Caillou
Opening Hours: 12pm-12am, 7 days a week
Admission Cost: Free
Dining Options: Starters from 6 euros, main courses from 9 euros, plus an extensive list of cocktails, wines, beers, fruit juices, smoothies and more.
For details on the timings of free guided tours, scheduled DJ sets etc, the website to check out is fluctuart.fr