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Lifestyle

“French Artist Races Against Time to Complete Monumental Artwork”

A few months back, Baptiste Chebassier made a bold decision: he left his consulting job to fully dedicate himself to his ambitious art project. His mission? To inscribe the names of all 30,249 medalists in the modern Olympics’ 128-year history before this year’s Games commence in Paris.

With a marker pen in hand, the 27-year-old meticulously writes the names on a continuously unfurling piece of paper, which is projected to stretch an impressive 120 meters (131 yards) upon completion. Chebassier’s journey began three years ago, starting from the 1896 Athens Olympics, the inaugural modern Games. However, progress was sluggish as he juggled his art alongside his job, only able to devote time to it before or after work, and on weekends.

Currently, Chebassier has progressed into the 1980s. Reflecting on his journey, he revealed, “Then, I quit my job a month and a half ago, and with the start of the Olympics in late July, I have to finish it whatever happens. I will finish it before the start of the Olympics, and if I can’t sleep doing so, then I won’t sleep.” Inspired by Polish artist Roman Opalka’s exploration of time, Chebassier also embarked on a journey to meet former Olympic athletes, inscribing their names onto his piece in their presence.

One such encounter took place in southern France, where he met Perrine Pelen, who clinched a bronze medal in Alpine skiing at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and added a bronze and silver at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo. Pelen expressed her honor upon seeing her name immortalized, stating, “There is great joy in looking back, and I’m very honored to be among all these medallists.”

As for Chebassier, finding a venue to exhibit his monumental artwork remains a task ahead. “I would like to be able to share this photography of all the Olympic medallists during the 2024 Paris Games in a place where it could be seen by athletes,” he shared, envisioning a space where athletes and attendees alike could witness their heroes’ names, including their own and those of their family members.

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