February 2, 1896 [Autruches/Promenade of Ostriches, Paris Botanical Gardens]

Actually, the ostriches—pulling a cart with passengers—are merely the beginning of Autruches. There follow a donkey-cart, children on horses, camels, even elephants. The fable-like nonchalance of the procession is matched only by the adults who remain after the parade of beasts, sedate Parisians unmoved by what may be an everyday event—but which, being photographed, seems more like something out of Alice in Wonderland, even down to the quality of the light, which reminds me of Tenniel's drawings for Carroll's book. The strollers, both engaging and strange, are like the figures in Gustave Caillebotte's painting of a rainy Paris street--perhaps ostriches all, as they step and preen. The bourgeoisie and the fairy-tale combine to make one eccentric, the other commonplace.


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