The café is a meeting place. The café is a purpose. People go there with a purpose, and there they stay. While we see people walking in the streets from one place to another, and we don’t know their destination, in cafés we can trace what they’re doing, who they are. Cafés are open to everyone, but each person has their characteristics, and, consequently, certain kinds of people usually attend them.
In this sequence, photographs have been taken in Versalhes. The sequence represents details of original photographs, where the intentional zoom highlights these people’s activity in this space.
These characteristics are, in my opinion, typically European. The fact that they sit down to eat implies a time for a pause, a moment; the reading of a newspaper, the arranging of a meeting, the decoration (in this particular café) of the place, the meal made with silverware, the food that reflects the culture, the writing activity, the clothes people dress up, or just the simple act of being: those are all typically European characteristics. The table, a place for sharing, is an important factor. It’s not just a place for eating, but also for coexisting.
“The café is a place for assignation and conspiracy, for intellectual debate and gossip, for the flâneur and the poet or metaphysician at his notebook. It is open to all, yet it is also a club, a freemasonry of political or artistic-literary recognition and programmatic presence.” George Steiner, The Idea of Europe