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L’Instant Paris Match: Capital by Arnau Bach


Winner of the 2013 Bourse Pierre et Alexandra Boulat with Suburbia, an immersive, intimate series about the Parisian suburbs, Arnau Bach is now presenting his latest work, Capital, set in Versailles, at the Galerie Cosmos.

In late 2005, after months of the French suburbs burning, Christian Frémont, a police chief in Marseille, explained the relative calm in his region. “In Marseille, there are no suburbs,” he said. “We are all Marseillais.” This is partly true. Marseille is not a city of outcasts, but a mood of exile hangs over the city nonetheless. Marseille is a city one passes through, even if one spends an entire lifetime passing through it. It’s a tough, tense, secret city, always changing. We can see this in the pictures of young men hanging out in front of their building. When they go “down to the city,” they aren’t seen as Indians escaped from the reserve. Downtown Marseille, still very working-class, is reminiscent of the small towns where their parents grew up, a far cry from the glitzy malls you find in the centers of other French cities. Here, the lines of segregation cut through the urban space diffusely, like a smuggling operation.
It’s impossible to understand Marseille without looking to its ports and the history of this large area which has now become, with the Projet Euroméditerrannée, one of the largest real estate deals in Europe. Behind the facade of the new business district La Joliette, a stone’s throw from office buildings, there remains a society blending working-class culture with the cultures of the formerly colonized, mass unemployment with pre-industrial mentalities, the marketplace vitality with client networks, and the drug trade driven by the raw energy of young men with nothing else to do… If Alain Tarrius’s theory of “globalization from below” were to find a capital, Marseille could compete for the title along with a few other Mediterranean port cities. Capital is a mosaic in which we can see all the contradictions of Marseille: the decline of the port, the colonial past, deindustrialization, the informal and not always  illegal economy, and the misfits waiting in sunless streets.

Capital d’Arnau Bach
Until March 29th, 2015
Cosmos Galerie
56 boulevard de la Tour Maubourg
75007 Paris


L’Œil de la Photographie is partner of L’Instant Paris Match.

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