Philipe Pasqua’s T-Rex (photograph by Anthony Grelot)
Facing the iron structure of the Eiffel Tower is now another metal skeleton: that of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Sparkling under the Parisian sun, the anachronistic silhouette stands by the Seine at the point of departure for the Bateaux Mouches. As if frozen before an attack, the predator greets tourists with a silent, yet ferocious, grin, as they peacefully criss-cross the River in pleasure boats. Paris morphed into Jurassic Park, who could have guessed!
At 22 meters (about 72 feet) long from skull to tail, the life-size prehistoric beast is, in fact, the creation of French artist Philippe Pasqua, whose work was commissioned by the Societé des Bateaux Mouches as an attempt to give an arty touch to the river banks.
Philipe Pasqua’s T-Rex. (photograph by Anthony Grelot)
Even entirely made of chromed aluminum, the gleaming dino has the uncanny structural sameness of his fossilized counterpart, displayed in the natural history museum of the Jardin des Plantes. Actually, it’s an identical replica of a T-Rex found in China, which Pasqua and his team were allowed to cast, bone by bone, so they could re-articulate the creature in the City of Light.
Once his metal understudy was complete, the jurassic jigsaw puzzle was assembled in Pasqua’s studio in a position chosen to be more dynamic, more aggressive, than a casual paleontological display. His size, menacing for us, but comparatively small compared to the surrounding architecture, is aimed to confuse us as his brooding posture could also be just a self-defense mechanism.
Pasqua’s work seems to find its roots in the aesthetics of “vanitas” and offers a modern reflection on the ephemeral nature of life. His skeletal T-Rex tells us a similar story. A “King of Carnivorous Lizards,” eliminated from our world by an early apocalypse, stands now, lost and defenseless, in the middle of our contemporary landscape, making it in that sense a very modern interpretation of the vanitas genre.
To pay a visit to Pasqua’s T-Rex, stop at the Alma-Marceau metro stop, and you’ll find him at the Bateaux Mouches Stations, on Quai de la Conference.