Jean Nouvel

Institut du Monde Arabe

© IMA / Fabrice Cateloy

Part Three Chapter 14

Underfoot, overhead, left, right, behind, ahead: Omnipresent, metal and glass conspire to remove all our bearings; unmoored, we ascend in spidery space. In a riot of shadow and light the guts of the construction invade our vision; reaching for your hand I catch your gaze: In the depths of your eyes as our hands entwine, I see Winston and Julia about to commit sexcrime.

Daylight! We cross a footbridge and step onto the rooftop terrace. Look! Towering above the other buildings, the Ministry of Truth—or is it the Ministry of Love? Préfecture de Paris, Temple du Marais, Ile Saint-Louis, Notre-Dame.

© IMA / Fabrice Cateloy

© IMA / Fabrice Cateloy

© IMA / Fabrice Cateloy

̶  Sprague!

I take the hand you hold out to me; we cross the terrace and penetrate into the interior space.

Glass walls, polished floors; glowing columns, gleaming doors: Refracting, reflecting, surfaces shimmer with patterns of filtered light. And then it appears, a giant screen of geometric forms, a riot of proliferating motifs: Intensely-patterned panes unfold their symmetry. Look! Mirror-plates in meticulous rhythm, flashes of prudence and vanity; clockwork in crystal panels, wheels of time and fortune.

̶  Come!

You take my hand, and through filigreed light lead me.

Looking out towards the former Police Headquarters

Looking in towards the restaurant

Looking out towards Notre-Dame

On the rooftop, in the corridor between the empty restaurant and the Seine façade of the building, cubic modules of wicker furniture stack up in disorderly columns. Bearing witness to winter, Arabic urns of barren earth punctuate the passage. We slip in between two stacks of chairs and wend our way to the railing. Spinning around, you say:

̶  Take off your coat.

In the dark groves of your eyes sulphur butterflies swarm; ready to do what must be done, I shake my jacket from my shoulders and toss it onto a railing post. You slip off yours and sling it over mine. Turning your back to the garde-fou, you pull me towards you.