Jan Dibbets «Meridian Arago Line» 1995.
Arago Markers, 1994.
The Netherlands artist Jean Dibbets marked the imaginary Meridian line across Paris with 135 bronze plaques of 12 cm in diameter set in the ground, marked North and South, and bearing the name of François Arago (1786-1853), a prominent astronomer and political figure.
Speaking of Arago, an inventive memorial to this astronomer, statesman, slavery abolitionist and early photography enthusiast marks the Paris meridian. His statue once stood where the meridian intersects the boulevard Arago in the 14th arrondissement south of the Observatory, where he lived until his death in 1853. It was melted down during World War II, however, and in 1994 the Arago Association, the Ministry of Culture and the city of Paris commissioned a Dutch conceptual artist, Jan Dibbets, to create a new memorial. Dibbets' project practically defines conceptual art: you have to know to look for it, and you have to know what it means, and then it becomes wonderful, one of the most touching of Paris monuments. It consists of 135 small bronze plaques set into the ground or floors all along the meridian between the northern and southern city limits. Each is 12cm in diameter, marked with the name ARAGO plus N and S pointers. This line of medallions runs through gardens, streets, buildings, courtyards and quais, and the search for them can quickly become addictive. ~ Rebecca Brite
History: Arago, Dominique François Jean (1786—1853). A French scientist and statesman. Arago became director of the PARIS OBSERVATORY, where he invited Urbain LEVERRIER to determine why Uranus was deviating from its predicted orbit, a study which led to the discovery of Neptune. Arago defined the MERIDIAN of Paris, used by French sailors until it was supplanted by the 'prime' meridian of Greenwich in 1884. He made measurements along the Paris meridian of the circumference of the Earth. A 'virtual monument' to Arago by the Dutch sculptor Jan Dibbets runs through Paris, in the form of 135 brass circles engraved with his name and located along the meridian line.