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  • Writer's pictureWill von Behr, MA

A Brief History of the Wall of Love in Paris

What is the Wall of Love in Paris?

The Wall of Love is a 40-square-metre wall decorated with enamelled lava tiles containing declarations of love in 250 different languages.

Wall of Love in Paris

Wall of Love History

In a city which has always been considered the epicentre of romance, an enormous love-themed wall, nestled in the heart of Montmartre (itself Paris’s most stereotypically romantic quarter), should come as no surprise. Yet the wall, entitled Le Mur des Je t’aime (or ‘The Wall of I-love-yous’), nevertheless astounds: a 40-square-metre art installation comprising 612 enamelled lava tiles and over 300 declarations of love. In total, the installation contains the phrase ‘I love you’ in 250 different languages.

The wall, created in 2000, results from collaboration between artist and musician Frédéric Baron and calligrapher Claire Kito. Baron spent eight patient years collecting these perennial words of love in over 300 languages and many more dialects. He claims to have achieved this by simply knocking on the doors of his neighbours and asking them to write down how they would say ‘I love you’ in their mother tongue. He managed to collect over one thousand original hand-written declarations of love from all corners of the globe in a series of notebooks. Translations of the phrase include world languages, as well as some which are rare or threatened, like Inuit, Navajo, and Bambara, and even constructed languages like Esperanto.

Eventually satisfied that they had sufficient examples, Baron and Kito began the monumental task of transcribing the declarations onto tiles which would combine to form one colossal art work. Having collected so many specimens, the pair decided that only the best-looking and best-sounding versions of the phrase would be used in the installation. In order to protect their project from the elements, it was decided that they would use hundreds of individual enamelled tiles. Each measures 21 by 29.7 centimetres, and this is no arbitrary measurement: the tiles were precisely scaled to the sheets in the notebooks Baron used.

The installation is full of symbolism. When you look carefully, you’ll notice bright red shapes across the surface of the wall. Each of these represents a small piece of a shattered heart (they would form a complete heart if joined together like a jigsaw puzzle). The artists intend them to symbolise how the human race has been torn apart due to a lack of love. Furthermore, a wall is usually a symbol of division and separation; here, however, the wall becomes a solid support for a beautiful expression of love – the means by which humans connect and overcome boundaries.

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