Curatorial staf’s words

Future metro stations, giant construction sites, neighborhoods which are transformed or which are just emerging from the ground, cities which blend together, institutions which are created… This is how what we call old Paris is growing, becoming more of a metropolis, going beyond its famous ring road and reducing the border between the suburbs and the center of town.

The exhibition Regards du Grand Paris brings together sensitive, engaged and poetic projects by the thirty-eight artists who participated in the first five years of the eponymous photographic commission. Their works reflect and echo each other, shaping stories and the multiple faces of the lives of those living here, in an area undergoing such a vast transformation.

The photographic commission was conceived as an invitation to the artists, asking them to contribute to an important project, associating research and their creative processes, focusing on creating original pieces which would be featured in a national collection of contemporary art for the very first time.

At the Magasins généraux, the big concept is a city as it imagines itself, with a number of routes through it. The show is built around five different places, each with its own issues and challenges: the street being walked on, offering varying, alternative cartographies, the monument being visited, featuring different architectures and urban life, the river we follow is a combination of individual and collective journeys, the park we relax in is a space in which different forms of life co-exist, and finally, the square where we meet is where political institutions and their battles may take place.

At the Musée Carnavalet – History of Paris and at more than thirty-eight sites all over ‘le Grand Paris’ including fifteen work sites for the future new métro line, the Grand Paris Express, this exhibition offers multiple opportunities to see these works. Underground passages, building façades, bridges, fences, future train stations and airports each invite audiences to share in this urban, artistic celebration. The show, Regards du Grand Paris is laid out like a sort of constellation: the pieces, original and replicas, will be popping up in a number of public spaces. Images will be shared in the areas which inspired them, connected via multiple transportation systems which irrigate the city and punctuate our lives, now and in the future. Spaced out around the city, the exhibition shares time, reduces certain distances, moves some of our known landmarks: downtown and outside spaces meet, exchange, question each other, channelling the salient points of a map which will be constantly evolving.

The different perspectives offered by the photographers of this show on ‘le Grand Paris’ may also be critical revelations. A certain point of view may prove to be an essential witness to something which may slowly be fading away. A change in perspective may bring together something which had been broken or split apart. An intimate gaze may tell us what is essential in a city: the people who live in it.

The curatorial staff

  • Pascal Beausse, director of the photography collection of the Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap)
  • Clément Postec, advisor for visual and prospective art at the Ateliers Médicis
  • Anna Labouze & Keimis Henni, artistic directors of the Magasins généraux
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