À Paris

Is Fantastic Realism alive in Paris?

6th December, 2018

Fantastic realism is a genre of narrative fiction and more broadly, art.

Photography: Mireilla Ramirez @ellamirez

Painting, literature, film, theatre, you name it. It consists in a primarily realistic view of the real world, while also adding or revealing magical elements. In other words, fantastic realism presents itself when the supernatural occurs in the real world, in a mundane setting.

The first time I came in contact with it was when I was 11 years old, while reading The House of the Spirits, the novel of the famous Chilean author Isabel Allende. One of the main characters, Clara del Valle, is a clairvoyant and telekinetic that is rarely attentive to the domestic tasks traditionally given to women in the post-colonial society of Chile. She very much preferred being left alone in the magnificent and old family house, full of lively memories and playful ghosts, that kept her company through the hardest times of her life.

The second time Fantastic realism came across my life was in the exhibition of Erasmo Wong, “Piura, Realismo Fantástico”, in 2014. For the ones who don’t know, my last name, Seminario, is a typical name from Piura, a beautiful region in the north coast of Peru. I clearly remembered then the stories my aunt Celia used to tell me when I was a little kid. Stories that she sworn they were real, where infernal beasts wandered the northern fields at night and seductive ladies with skeleton hands left the town bars with drunk abusive men who were never to be seen again.

I myself haven’t seen any spirits lately, but I understand now that this idea of old places where memories and reality get mixed and the barriers between them get blurred, is innate to Paris. Moreover, I start to build some certainty around the idea that the places that are considered the most attractive and beautiful to people usually have some mystical and occult aura around them.

From the Chilean countryside of Allende to the vast northern fields of Piura, and landing in the 400-years old buildings of center Paris, I feel this is the kind of everyday magic that makes up open our eyes, observe more carefully and briefly escape the modern apathy of today’s world.

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