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LETTER FROM PARIS

Catherine Trautmann

FOR THE PRICE OF A tramway ticket, the Strasbourg commuter purchases not only a ride through the city in a transparent, state-of-the-art streetcar, but also a series of encounters with contemporary artworks: Barbara Kruger’s monumental anti-advertising campaign covering the lone underground station, Mario Merz’s red-neon Fibonacci numbers in translucent glass boxes embedded between the rails over nearly a mile of the surface line, and Jonathan Borofsky’s Woman Walking to the Sky, on an eighty-two-foot pole that rises diagonally over a public square (a pendant to his Man Walking to the Sky in Kassel). Even the tickets are mini-artworks, imprinted with Gérard Collin-Thiébaud’s “living encyclopedia of Strasbourg.”

“Contemporary art is a sign of our times,” then-mayor Catherine Trautmann declared at the November 1994 inauguration of these public commissions. “It must be visible and accessible

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