A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

A lion, big curious and bored decides to leave the grasslands in search of something more – a job, love and a future. Arriving in Paris by train he is a little daunted by the busy city. He thinks that he might surprise the Parisians but instead they surprise him – by taking no notice. As he takes in more and more of Paris he grows to love the city and decides finally to give up his freedom and his grassland home for a plinth in the middle of a busy roundabout.

Alemagna’s art work – a mixture of color pencil,  ink pen, and photo montage is reminiscent of the Table That Ran Away to the Woods. The book opens like a calendar – quite different from usual. So big it’s too awkward to read sitting on your lap. It’s bulk forces us to pay proper attention, spreading it on the table or floor so as to take in each of the beautiful images. Each image is given it’s own page so the pace of the book is deliberate, slow and thoughtful. The text sits on the page above engulfed in white space, encouraging us to contemplate image and text separately.

Does a lion have a job? Did people always have jobs?

What is work? Why should we work?

Could a lion live freely in the city? Can we live freely in the city?

What determines who we are and what we should do?

What makes something real? Does something have to be seen to be real?

What is freedom – is it important?

Does living in a community necessarily mean relinquishing some freedom?

Are we exercising freedom when we choose to give up some freedoms?

What makes a good life?

What is the function of art? Does it have a function?

Is it possible to change our destiny?

Is to be loved more important than to be free?