Eric Grassien is staging a protest under the Broken Chair to emphasize his plight.
Handicapped and in a wheelchair, the 44 yr old camped under the monumental statue opposite the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday. Smoking a pipe and looking every bit Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, he told me in French (which I hurriedly tried to decipher with my ‘Conversational French’ book) that he liked it under the chair, but had no home to go to.
The police told me he was evicted from his apartment and after a couple of days they will get social services to find him a half-way house to go to. For now, however, they left him to smoke at a giant wooden table with nothing but a candle, pamphlets and some bread and jam under the giant statue dedicated to remind UN delegates of the destruction of land mines and cluster bombs.
Created by Swiss artist Daniel Berset, Broken Chair had only three legs, the third symbolising loss of limbs from mines left by war. I was very impressed by Eric-what a perfect metaphor for his own situation, if not a little over the top-but hey, what’s a handicapped man have to do to get a home around here?
It turns out Grassien is no stranger to media.
-If any of the facts in this post are incorrect, please let me know. I do not speak French and people who spoke to me, did not speak fluent English. Thanks!
UN office with my brother.
Go to see the Broken-Chair statue.
Talking French with a handicapped man in a wheelchair protesting his recent eviction and smoking a giant pipe;
His dog’s name is Laik.
Tourists watching us suspiciously.
Camping under a giant three-legged chair outside UN headquarters,
he gives me a pamphlet in French as the cops come.
They leave him for one more night.
Hospital for last check up before sister’s c-section.
Drinking french 3 franc wine in a dimmed apartment with sleeping pregnant sister.
Reading me his brothers letter over skype,
space cucumber and the smell of soil,
written like how it is spoken.
Figuring it out on the bathroom floor,
but you smell like a warm breeze
Probably on a day when it would normally be too hot, but in it’s own way it’s exciting and refreshing.
Saw an old woman smash a bottle of red fruit cordial in the corner shop
Bought 2 Heinekens for roughly 3 francs,
drank one gave one to one of the guys in the park.
“Hey camera lady come here!”
“I like the way you look, I like the way you walk.”
Nigerians, Congolese, South Africans smoking joints on an archway.
Shiny, ripped, shirtless man pulling weights with addictive intensity.
A man with a pet chicken on a string putting the bird on peoples heads,
Blonde women with prams walking by
Young couples dancing the waltz under colomned alfresco
Smoking joints with African dealers.
Cops arresting dealers with handcuffs and searching the grounds around us.
Mood drops momentarily.
Other dealers slowly escape into the crowds.
Change of scene.
Sitting on the grass smoking a joint stuck into a fruit drink bottle a quarter full.
Works like a bong.
Man practicing slap bass.
Slacklining in the distance
Purple clad marching band surrounding the park.
Drowning them out with freestyle to beats.
Not understanding, but feeling completely accepted.
Wander home feeling stoned.
What an interesting day.