We sat in The Orangerie this morning (the Musée de l'Orangerie if I must spell it out), in a state that drifted between wonder and bemusement, having fortuitously arrived in an interval between the departure madding crowds and the arrival of even maddinger ones, trying to absorb as much as we could of Monet’s wonderful waterlilies through a sea of selfie-artists and others apparently intent on capturing a piece of the magic.
Having only seen these things in print before, we can assure those who were trying so earnestly to capture the moment, that they cannot. But we sit in silence, feeling so vastly superior to these mere tourists and their selfies and their monster cameras and lenses, as though we have some sort of ownership of this space. We wonder as they stand with their backs to the paintings absorbed in their own images why they just can’t rely on their memory. Surely the very presence of the place is enough, the image can only devalue what they were actually feeling.
And then, to my own horror, suddenly there are only two between us and the wall. Two perfectly intruders dressed entirely in sympathy with the paintings. I take out my camera and click. It’s too late to take back that one thoughtless action.
I am one of them after all.