The architecture of the Parisian suburbs is something that can only be seen far from the clichés of archetypical Paris. Souvenir d’un Futur, a photography series by Laurent Kronental, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the grands ensembles—giant housing complexes in urban Paris. The photos are on display at the 104 in Paris from March 26 to June 26, 2016.
Souvenir d’un Futur takes an alternative approach to looking at these concrete towers and the older inhabitants who occupy them. Going beyond the typical portrayal of urban Paris, Laurent Kronental explores their architectural beauty—a dimension rarely, if ever, associated with these areas. Behind Laurent’s lens, these large urban complexes erected from the 1950s to the 1980s as a solution to the housing crisis, are transformed into old futurist estates. Born in Courbevoie in 1987, the self-taught artist’s eye gives us a view into the memory of a modern utopia.
The result of four years of visits and discussions with its inhabitants, Souvenir d’un Futur immortalizes the oldest occupants of the complexes. Blending portraiture and architectural photography, Laurent Kronental wanted to create “the impression of cities emptied of their inhabitants (…) a parallel, post-apocalyptic universe, where the final witnesses to this world would be its senior citizens.” Though the complexes are also home to immigrants and low-income families, Laurent chose to focus in on the older generation, presenting them as the living memory of these places.
An unexpected vision of the architecture of Ile-de-France
The thirty-some large format prints, all shot on film, provide an unexpected view of Parisian architecture. The edifices, fixed somewhere between past and future, carry all the stigma of an old American dream gone bad. This complex memory permeates the building and can be seen on the very faces of its oldest occupants.
Recipient of the 2015 Bourse du Talent prize, the series was also selected by the jury for the Circulation(s) festival and can be seen at the 104 in Paris through June 26.
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