Some words are vague: the overall meaning can be grasped, but it is hard to define them with exactitude. “Zone” is one. In French, it means the blur of the suburbs, a kind of boredom or the threshold of delinquency, but few people are aware that it is rooted in a precise historical reality. At first, the Zone designated a 250m-wide strip of land running along the 34km of fortifications built around Paris in 1844. This area had to remain empty for military defense, but it gradually filled up with poor people. They put up flimsy structures, cabins and huts of every kind. Except for some famous figures such as Eugène Atget or Germaine Krull, few photographers took an interest in this urban and social phenomenon between the wars. Consequently, most of the pictures exhibited are by anonymous photographers. This group of documentary photographs, which have never been shown before, recalls an impoverished population relegated to the outskirts of Paris, like a subconscious memory of the modern city that people were in a hurry to repress.
Exhibition curators: Marion and Philippe Jacquier, Zoé Barthélémy.
Exhibition coproduced by Lumière des Roses gallery and the Rencontres d'Arles.