The first time I have read one of Natalie’s ideas, I was amazed by her courage and clarity of thought. In “Women of the Left Bank” she is described as a woman that lives by the belief that pure presence is essential for a life where art is prioritised every step of the way. The following fragment is an encapsulation of her attitude towards life and her authentic way of expressing herself.
“So long as I live, the love of Beauty will be my guide. … Did my parents create me to deny myself? […] I therefore have to find or found a milieu that fits my aspirations: a society composed of all those who seek to focus and improve their lives through an art that can give them pure presence. These are the only people with whom I can get along, and communicate and finally express myself openly among free spirits. … let’s discover real values which alone can inspire us or make us comprehensible. (from Natalie Barney’s unpublished autobiography, quoted in Portrait of a Seductress, 47-48)
The Flaneuse Project is a digital collection of the thoughts, lifestyles, ideas, wanderings, and art of women who lived and who live by the creed of “pure presence”. The flaneuse is not only a wanderer, a reader, a writer, but the unique essence of every woman who truly “walks the walk”. The woman that observes in her daily encounters her surroundings, feelings, thoughts and in a way or another transforms them into Art. The woman that owns herself fully and actively engages in her growth and daily transformation. This project will also include a guide to the flaneuring Berlin, art galleries, and a collection of conversations with great women and men from Berlin and beyond.
Through this project I intend to write about the flaneuse from various perspectives, while connecting their stories together in a puzzle where the most important part is the question, not the answers, and where the most meaningful part is the walk, not the destination.