Wondering, wandering, and making sense of the world.


Hi dad, didn’t expect to see you here

At the basement of Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, there is a room filled with phonebooks from around the world collected between 1999 and 2000. At first glance, it feels like another piece of modern art, weird and inconsequential.

Then you realize that in the room are names of everyone in the world who existed at the turn of the century.

Everyone is an overstatement. Not everyone is in the phonebook, and the collection is not nearly complete, heavy on developed countries and lighter on developing countries. Japan has one of the largest collections, much larger than China despite being one-eighth the population.

Unlike most artworks, although not explicitly mentioned, touching is encouraged in this room. There are tables with lamps for people to comb through the books and find themselves, their families, whomever they wish.

Going through the Kyoto City South directory, I found my childhood home listed under my father who died over nine years ago:

It was a serendipitous moment that ran chills down my spine.

I hope they keep this place forever. Someday I will send my kids and grandkids here.


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