On our last day in Paris this October we met Irina Shnitman in the rue Perrée and went on a lovely walk through Marais ending up in front of Notre-Dame. Our wandering was full of all sort of wonders. We stopped to stare at shadows, at decorated windows, at street art like the one by Petite Poissone featured in the last images. Within the last rays of light we entered Notre-Dame and felt blessed by all the beauty surrounding us.
The attacks that hit this city just a few days ago just a few streets away hit us deeply in our heart. Even more so because of all those moments of bliss that are still so lively in our head. And we want to hold on tight on them, on life and on Paris, as the city we got to love. Enjoy this little feature!
Thanks for joining us for this feature, Irina. We are glad we made it at such a wonderful time with the sun setting over Paris. When in Paris, you said to enjoy spending time around Hôtel de Ville, hunting for some special piece in the many vintage shops. Do you shop with something specific on your mind or just go with the flow? What was the best find so far and how would you describe your style?
Most of the time I don’t have anything specific I’m looking for, usually I just go if I feel like in the shopping mood. I really enjoy searching for gifts for my friends and family and going to some small authentic shops where you can find handmade jewelry, chocolates or even stickers and postcards. So far the best find was a completely ragged denim jacket, which I can combine with almost all my clothes, I can even put it over other jackets because it is big and I like having many layers when I dress. I don’t really care of following any style or making up my own. I just dress with my mood and choose the things that make me feel good and look interesting or beautiful in my eyes, sometimes I just don’t care and put on whatever. Personal style is a good thing as it can say many things about the person, but sometimes I just want to stay silent, you know?
All through our walk, you could not stop wondering about things– the shadow of passer-by’s in the sunset, some street art on the wall, a nice window… What is beauty in your eyes?
Beauty is something that is made with taste, passion and heart, something that makes you feel love and joy.
We were the lucky last two who got access into Notre-Dame on that day, since the mess already started. Beyond religious beliefs, some places just have this spiritual vibe to them you can’t deny. You told us you had recently been to Barcelona and went to see the Sagrada Familia and were struck with awe. Can you describe your reaction in words? How important are such moments in your life?
Some places in the world have a special spirit such as La Sagrada Familia which has a very strong energy. When I went inside and saw how the light was coming in through the colorful windows, how all the little details merged together, how grandiose it is and how much work and soul were put in that – I just started to cry. I think these moments of understanding something so great, of feeling the magical spirit of art or nature are the most important moments in life. They keep us closer to the universe and more aware of the meaning of life and our purpose here, beside giving us a chance to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle.
Have you found a personal way to keep and treasure such moments? Maybe through art?
Yes, art always helps not to lose the connection with your soul and dreams. With this job I don’t have so much time to digress and enjoy art in galleries or exhibitions, that’s why I have my music with me in the hard moments.
We have noticed you do some painting. Is there something in particular you are trying to channel?
Yes, I do paint from time to time. Art gives people an opportunity to express themselves in different ways and so it does for me. Before, when I was studying in art school I never tried to put any meaning into my paintings, they were just an exercises to build the technique. Now most of my paintings have an idea which I can show my thoughts and conditions with, but more for myself than for anyone else. I also prefer to paint just beautiful things, such as nature and interesting faces.
Is there an artist or a specific art period, you feel connected to?
I feel most connected to Impressionism and Surrealism.
Right now, you are spending a lot of time traveling and living between continents and maybe it is too early to ask anyway, but is there a particular place you could picture yourself settling down in? If so, why?
Well, I’m thinking a lot about it. As for now I see that it could be Saint Petersburg. Russia is my home country and even though I’m from Moscow, Saint Petersburg attracts me more because of the architecture, its different lifestyle, the artistic people and the many places to go. But I like the idea of living on some Indonesian island, too.
What makes you feel most free?
Nature and art.