Philippe Petit

Philippe Petit
Philippe Petit
  • Born: August 13, 1949
  • Nationality: French
  • Profession: High-wire Artist

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Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, on the morning of August 7, 1974 as well as his high wire walk between the towers of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, 1971. For his unauthorized feat 400 metres (1,000 feet) above the ground – which he referred to as "le coup" – he rigged a 200-kilogram (440-pound) cable and used a custom-made 8-metre (30-foot) long, 25-kilogram (55-pound) balancing pole. He performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire. The following week, he celebrated his 25th birthday. All charges were dismissed in exchange for him doing a performance in Central Park for children.

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An intellectual challenge presents itself? I am in bliss. Instantly, it brings forth the notion of triumph.
Art is maybe a subversive activity. There is a certain rebellion when you are an artist at heart, even if only in the art of living. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
As a high wire walker, I do not allow myself to 'leave the wire' during a performance.
As I'm studying magic, juggling is mentioned repeatedly as a great way to acquire dexterity and coordination. Now, I had long admired how fast and fluidly jugglers make objects fly. So that's it. I'm 14; I'm becoming a juggler.
Certainly, in the story of my life, the walk between the Twin Towers was one of the grandest, one of the most memorable, but not solely the grandest and the most memorable. Life
Death frames the high wire. But I don't see myself as taking risks. I do all of the preparations that a non-death seeker would do. Death
Every year, I am conscious of the anniversary of my 1974 World Trade Center walk.
Everybody wanted me to be rich and famous on my art. And I said no to all the commercials and all the seedy offers. Fame ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Faith is what replaces doubt in my dictionary. Religion & God
Fame was never something I was seeking in my artistic journey. It's to be used as a tool for an artist to break open doors and keep creating. That's how I enjoyed fame in '74; it was not just for the emptiness of being famous. Fame
For me, since I have a life wish, not a death wish, for me, I was not gambling my life. I was doing something much more beautiful. I was carrying my life across. Life ;Death
For years, I have been working on crossing the Grand Canyon. Actually, there is nobody who says 'no,' but since this is a project that comes from me and not a commission, I have to find the money, plan the logistics, etcetera. Money, Coins & Minting
How could I share with you how I felt when two towers that I loved, two pieces of steel and glass and concrete fell down, when actually they took with them thousands of human lives? That is the actual tragedy. But those towers were almost human for me. I was in love with them, and that's why I married them with a tight rope. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I am a thief of knowledge, and in a survival way, I had to solve all the problems around me. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I am a wire-walker. I can walk any time, anywhere - I'm indestructible. Time
I am fascinated by the engineering. The science of constructing and understanding why it stands. And I am drawn by the madness, the beauty, the theatricality, the poetry and soul of the wire. And you cannot be a wire-walker without mingling those two ways of seeing life. Life ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I am not up there by chance. I am there by choice. And I know the wire. And I know my limits. And I am a madman of details.
I am the poet of the high wire - I never do stunts; I do theatrical performances.
I did a walk in 1973 illegally in the northern side of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
I didn't go to school much. I was thrown out of different schools, and my university is the street.
I focus, I invent, I transform, I challenge, I attempt, I observe, I perform.
I found out that total creativity involves a certain intellectual rebellion - not to become a criminal, but somehow. to be totally creating, you have to do things that are a little bit forbidden. You have to feel free, and we know freedom is a hard thing to get. Freedom & Liberty
I hate all electronic things that are supposed to help the human being. You don't smell, you don't hear, you don't touch anymore.
I have a fear of water, believe it or not. To put a wire 12 feet over a swimming pool frightens me. I don't like water.
I have been expelled from five different schools when I was a kid. And I learned basically all what I do by myself.
I have been performing in the street for more than 50 years: magic for basically 60 years, and the high wire 45 years. The beauty of it is that it's never the same. It's never easy. And yet, part of my art is to make it look easy. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I keep saying I am an auto-didact, but I have a lot of outside influences. One I could cite is juggler Francis Brunn, who was the first man to throw ten rings in the air; he was really an amazing juggler who showed onstage the quest for perfection.
I love or hate things straight away. I like to go directly to action to see the result. I think I must be difficult, but at the same time, it's not for me to say. Time ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I love to remember the World Trade Centre walk, but it should not define me. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I needed more knowledge in rigging and knotting. I started collecting books on knots and really learning more and more. That's how it started. And also in magic, of course. With a piece of rope, you can do magic. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I rendezvous with the long wire and perform the 'torero walk', gliding my feet, holding the pole away from my body, head high.
I started making monkey bridges, like kids do, and climbing and rappelling with ropes. Very naturally, I needed some knots. At the very beginning, I didn't care, I didn't know, and then slowly I started to know, and I started to care. I wanted to know more knots or the right knot for the special action.
I started putting a wire up in secret and performing without permission. Notre Dame, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the World Trade Center. And I developed a certitude, a faith that convinced me that I will get safely to the other side. If not, I will never do that first step. Religion & God
I started very early, from five or six years old, to climb. To climb trees, to climb rocks everywhere I could. At some point, of course, I used a rope.
I walk on the wire; it's my profession, and there are no two high wire walks alike.
I wanted all my life to give my world into other arts - books, plays, movies - but I didn't want to sell out. Life ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I was born in a world of opera, theatre, films, poetry, art, and therefore, out of the wire, I made a stage. That's why they call me a high wire artist. Literature, Writers & Writing ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I was in art school once a week from six to 16, which was essential in shaping my artistic sensitivity. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I was never part of the sailing circle, but I enjoy when I'm invited to sail.
I was not born into the world of the stuntman and the daredevil; I was born into the world of theater and writing and sculpting and classical music. Music, Chants & Rapps
I was thrown out of different schools because I was practicing my arts - magic, juggling, and the high wire.
I will never fall prey to celebrity because I am too busy. I have other things to do than look at myself in the mirror.
I would like to continue to tell stories of what I did in a biographical way, so I will continue to write.
I would not describe my personality. And I think when you describe people, you are making a mistake. That's not how they are; that's how you perceive them at that moment. It's limiting in front of something that is magnificent and unlimited: life. Life
I, like everybody else, have a certain fear of heights, and I have to be very careful when I am in the clouds, but it is also what I love; it is my domain, so when you love something, you don't have fear. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
If a leaf fell from a tree, I'd stop juggling and play with the leaf. I went to my prop bag and got a little bandage and stuck the leaf back on the tree. People loved it.
If I am practicing on the wire, and you pushed me, I would not move, and if you take a piece of wood and beat me up on the shoulder and the head, I would not move. You would not put me out of balance. You would not be able to. I am solid as granite when I am on the tight rope, and I should be.
If I had been born in the circus, my parents would have pushed me on that little high wire at four years old. That's when the body is most limber to learn those acrobatics.
If I have to make a self-portrait, I would put poetry and rebellion on the list. To be able to walk on a wire, to be able to juggle six hoops, you need focus, another word for tenacity, which is passion. Literature, Writers & Writing
If I see three oranges, I have to juggle. And if I see two towers, I have to walk.
If you see how carefully I prepare for any kind of walk, legal or illegal, small or big, you will see that, actually, I narrow the unknown to virtually nothing. And that's when I am ready to walk on the wire. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
I'm a wire-walker, but actually, I'm a moviemaker that hasn't done his first movie.
In my life, I wanted to meet certain people. I never met Charlie Chaplin, but I met Werner Herzog. Life
It is treacherous on a high wire to change your focus point and suddenly look down.
It is very normal for people on the ground to look at somebody apparently walking in midair and thinking first that person is crazy and thinking secondly that person risks his or her life. Life
It would be very, very dangerous for a wire walker to experience fear while he is balancing on the wire. Fear has its place on earth, before and maybe after a high-wire walk, but not during for me.
It's always easy to describe something complex by applying to it an already known label.
It's part of my life to feel like a criminal, to have eyes in my back and see if I'm being followed. It's a feeling that comes from street juggling because I have been arrested so many times. Life
It's very easy to walk on a wire if you spend a whole lifetime practicing for it.
It's very normal - when you're not used to the world of the high wire, it's very normal to be simply terrified. The reason I'm not is because I've done it for so many years.
I've been arrested many times for illegal high wire walking and illegal street performing.
I've frowned at the idea of breaking records, the first one to do something, or do it longer, higher, more difficult.
Many people use the words 'death defying' or 'death wishing' when they talk about wire-walking. Many people have asked me: 'So do you have a death wish?' After doing a beautiful walk, I feel like punching them in the nose. It's indecent. I have a life wish. Life ;Death
Metaphorically speaking, of course, if I put a problem behind my pillow and fall asleep, very often because my brain went to sleep with that idea or the problem alive, very often in the middle of the night I wake up, and I wake up with a solution or with a direction of solution.
My first walk illegally at 20 years old was between the towers of Notre Dame.
My journey has always been the balance between chaos and order.
My parents wanted me to have an honorable profession and not to be a jester.
My parents were intelligent and encouraging, but at the same time, they were displeased at me becoming a wandering troubadour and wire walker. Time
My time is always divided when I prepare for a wire walk. First I dream, technically and artistically, and then I go to work, and I am the master rigger, climbing trees and ladders and constructing. Only then I change my cap and become the performer. Time ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Notre Dame and Sydney - that was nothing. Notre Dame doesn't have a police station; it is not 1,000 or so feet high. It was a public structure, very easy to access. And Sydney Harbour Bridge was half-and-half: a bridge, in the middle of the night. The World Trade Center was the end of the world. Electronic devices, police dogs.
Obsessed people are not humorless at all.
Of course, the slightest little mistake on the wire will deprive me of my life, so in that sense, yes, it is a dangerous profession. You have to pay attention; if not, you will lose your life. Life
On a very long and very high wire, I will not hope to not be blown off by high winds. I will have the certitude that such could not happen. Hope
On one day of the week, I relax - which is not true, I work furiously on other things. 'Relax' is not a word to me. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
On the high wire, within months, I'm able to master all the tricks they do in the circus, except I am not satisfied.
Passion is the motto of all my actions.
Right after my Twin Towers walk, I was approached by hundreds of people, and I said no to all the offers. I could have become a millionaire overnight, obviously, but I said no, and I continue to be uninterested.
Talking about theater, actually, I built a little barn in upstate New York, and I call it 'the smallest theater in the world,' but it has a mini stage and a red velvet curtain.
The impossible - we are told - cannot be achieved. To overcome the 'impossible,' we need to use our wits and be fearless. We need to break the rules and to circumvent - some would one say to cheat.
The wire is a safe place for me to be. The street is not. Life is not. It's a rigorous and simple path. It's straight. You don't have meanders like, you know, on the ground, in life. Life
There is a child inside me that wants to come out and do something to surprise all the adults.
There was a time when fire and story would fall asleep in unison. It was dream time. Time
This moment where we think we rest, when the brain is floating, you know, in sleep, is actually a moment where I could be very creative in a very strange, uncontrolled way.
To be able to create fully, it's maybe fine that you learn the rules, but you have to forget and to rebel against those rules.
Truly, from a very early age, I started distancing myself from other kids, not out of willingness, but just out of the nature of my energy. I liked to do things solely, and I already had a taste of the quest for perfection, which is unusual in a little kid. Nature
Usually, when I walk on a wire, I inspect the anchor point on both sides before crossing.
What I think tailors the creativity of most people are the rules that we learn from the age we are very small - in school, our parents.
When a loved one disappears, you continue to live with the accompaniment of that person. One has to find a balance between joy and sorrow.
When art in general, and film in particular, succeeds is when it pulls you away onto a voyage. Then it's a good film. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
When I was learning by myself, despite my parents, despite my teachers, despite society, when I was fighting for building my life as a young wire walker at age 16, I didn't have feelings, I had certainties. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Life
When I was six years old, I fell in love with magic. For Christmas, I got a magic box and a very old book on card manipulation. Somehow, I was more interested in pure manipulation than in all the silly little tricks in the box. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
When you are a young person, the world is yours. You can do the impossible.
Wire-walking in performance is one thing - I never fell, of course. If I had, I wouldn't be here talking about it.
You see, it's actually very good that a human activity is performed very close to death, because that's where life is. Life is, at its most valuable and most full, very close to the boundary of life. Life ;Death

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