Paris-Toulouse: Militant universities and the military parade on Bastille Day

toulouse political slogans 11

Knowledge is a weapon! … The union is a force!

This is the continuation of my last post about the visual culture at the University of Toulouse (Mirail). Just having seen the 14 Juillet, i.e. Bastille Day, the national holiday in celebration of the 1789 French Revolution, it’s tempting to draw some comparisons with a rather different, far more legitimate kind of political landscape: that of the enormous military parade that took place Tuesday morning on the Champs-Elysées. Yes, I went, curious to see what exactly was involved in this enormous national pageant.

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Militant student slogans and iconography in Toulouse

Last week while I was in Toulouse, I went to take a look at the local university (Mirail), to see if it turned out to be the one in the video I posted about last week. And indeed there were a large number of decrepit buildings, occasionally graced by lovely flowers. But the buildings also turned out, like Paris-8, to display an intense activist visual culture: of graffiti, of slogans, of icons, of murals, of messages that contradicted each other, of clashing color.

toulouse political slogans 1

No to the LRU! says a figure falling into a trash can. Or is it the LRU itself that’s falling into a trash can?

toulouse political slogans 2

“For a critical and popular university [fac]!” Apparently this is a traditional militant slogan at Toulouse.

“Get a new slogan please!” is the caption written below by someone who apparently disagrees or is simply bored.

[La fac, i.e. la faculté, is a now bureaucratically obsolete term that used to designate a college, a faculty, a division – as in the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Law, etc. It is still used in common parlance to refer to the public universities – les facultés – as opposed to other institutions of higher learning (private business schools, elite government institutes, and the like).

toulouse political slogans 2a

“For a hard and copulating university!”

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Notre belle université

A few months ago, Baptiste Coulmont posted a sarcastically titled video called “our beautiful university” that testifies to the squalor and physical deterioration of a university campus in the south of France, Marseille or Toulouse I think. It’s essentially a youtube montage of photos of decrepit university spaces; the photos are also collected at Picasa.

decrepit radiator

At times, the mold approaches the complexity of mountaintop lichens, or perhaps it’s more like a spontaneous display of abstract art.

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