This Europe: Art set in stone raises Parisian eyebrows

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Number Nine Rue Pérignon in the seventh district of Paris is an apparently sensible limestone building, with a flow of distinguished-looking men and women passing through its entrance. This address, according to a plaque on the wall, is where "Karima Bentiffa, civil servant, lived from 1984 to 1989".

Number Nine Rue Pérignon in the seventh district of Paris is an apparently sensible limestone building, with a flow of distinguished-looking men and women passing through its entrance. This address, according to a plaque on the wall, is where "Karima Bentiffa, civil servant, lived from 1984 to 1989".

In the 11th district, another building, adorned with a similar plaque, pays tribute to a plumber. And at 11 Rue Sidi-Brahim, in the 12th, a sober inscription proclaims: "On 17 April 1967, nothing happened here."

Claire de Clermont-Tonnerre, a city councillor, smelt a rat, or a trickster; maybe even a bored plaque-maker. An investigation was launched. Yesterday, after the city council heard that the plaques were indeed fakes, Le Parisien newspaper said it had found the culprits: Two artists whose work is entitled "plaques to commemorate the ordinary", and whose desire is "neither to hurt nor to shock but to make people smile and think". The names on the plaques are invented.

Residents, and Mrs de Clermont-Tonnerre, are divided. "I think they could be perceived as insulting to the families of resistance fighters or war martyrs who are justly honoured by plaques around the city," she said. But Anne-Laure Drhuin, who lives in the place where nothing happened in 1967, said: "I think it's fun and poetic."

As for what happens next, there is a problem. The law says that once a fixture is attached to a building, it belongs to the building's owner. Paris co-ops will now have to vote whether to remove the plaques or continue to be part of this gentle celebration of the ordinary.

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