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Patti Smith: truth and ghosts from the past

I sat through all the sessions in the Palais in #canneslions. Some sessions were boring, uninspired,  over the top, could be predicted. Others were great, entertaining, educative, challenging. But true inspiration sparked when people from outside the industry were given time. Robert Redford: fabulous. And… Patti Smith.

She’s 64, and looks like she rock’n’rolled every single one of those years. She was at the very heart of punk and Rock. An iron lady in wrapped in leather and iron chains.  A scene monster.

But the lady calmly talking to the creative industry is soft spoken, cites poetry, cites big books of religion, and speaks with reverence of her fellow artists, the people she knew, now long gone… She keeps her memories lively, with a touch of melancholy. Smith is mesmerizing, captivating. She recreates her fellows: Robert Mapplethorpe, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix.  She paints the shaman in Jim, who brought poetry as a highly emotive language, the humbleness of Jimi, who would be mortified by the modern culture of instant online, paparazzi and cellphone cameras.   When Smith talks, the audience is silent.

And she teaches, naturally playing with little gems, paraphrasing her recent book Just Kids. She encourages the audience to look for the magic, to stop faking being unique because you already are, to live up to the duty of transforming society for the good. To not take no for an answer, but struggle for what is right…  to make the ad industry tremble with fear for the unknown, cause you never fear enough. And to be true. To your values, yourself, your friends, your network, your history.

And forget the life is simple. Every weathered line in her face shows the sorrow, struggle, pain and melancholy that turned her into the woman she is.

When she cited poetry she meant to send to Robert Mapplethorne before he died, there was not a dry eye in the audience. You could sense Patti’s old friend reappearing on stage: Beautiful magic.

Here is a lesson no golden lion can buy: “To live in the hearts of those you love, is not to die”…


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