From the moment that I visited the Manege Carnier in the Jardin du Luxembourg for the first time, I was hooked. The grand architect of the Old opera -still called Opéra Garnier- made a merry-go-round for the Jardin, maybe as birthday present for his little daughter. After all sometimes you want something else than having to push the small sailing boats with a little stick each Sunday in the great round pond in front of the Palais du Luxembourg.
A birthday present sounds easy, but to make a perfect merry-go-round wit all the animals and luck of the world, is a master proof, more than building an opera. The construction is simple, via toothed wheels, driven by a little diesel engine, the little merry-go-round forever makes a tournedos for a franc or fifty euro cents, what difference does it make. As each child gets a little stick in the hand to put through the ring and by the way they look as if they just came out of a packing box, so neat. And now, more than a century later on, it’s still the same. The wooden animals, the horses, the elephants, the giraffes, they don’t exist, they look as if they are coming out of a story on this afternoon just for you, little prince. And the patron of the manège has the softest view I ever saw in a French park. With an angel like patience and his pocket full of centimes, he conjures up the animals in motion with on their back the most beautiful freight of France and the former overseas territories.
Since that moment I am lost. There’s no horse escaping from my attention. The little horse has something more than the other animals, something mythical, something from the dream itself. Each time in La Ville, I have to go there for a while, to keep on believing that some things don’t pass away. And I had to collect them, as ‘cartes visites’, the photo studio’s with the toy horses from very small till real big ones, as object till almost alive.
Or those two from Prague, connected with an invisible stick on the wheels and when I pull them, they start moving, really, you believe them!