This piece is the result of work done in summer 2014. After choosing a sample from a score of Zus in Seine-Saint-Denis where operations were being carried out by the National Urban Renovation Agency, Fougeirol drew up a map. Represented as black dots on the same scale, these zones could be read as blind spots in the eye, where the visual nerve takes the place of the photoreceptive rods.
The contours of these zones are determined by streets or parcels. Fougeirol has given form to their exhaustive toponymic nomenclature. Juxtaposed, ordered, these names adumbrate a strange Lettriste poem with associations that are at once banal, arbitrary and singular.
Fougeirol has systematically explored these physical limits and produced images, following a strict protocol: digital camera with an uncentred “architectural” lens placed at eye-height on the tripod, so as to be as close as possible to ordinary perception, with an horizontal format, so as to be as objective as possible, free of bias. The continuous projection of this collection of documentary photographs in black-and-white, taken on the front lines between city and city, between “zone” and suburb, between what is considered sensitive and what is not, this film of a reality that is at once banal and provisional is both a document and an artwork.
The document shows the contemporary banality of public spaces, thoughtlessly laid out, unthinkingly “stuck together” and designed essentially for mechanical traffic. Marked by signs that are empty of meaning, they are unthought spaces inhospitable to any kind of city life.
This work probes the gap between the real and its representations, which hardly reflect those of the various players in urban development, foremost among them the architects.
Born in 1962, photographer and artist Benoît Fougeirol lives and works in and around Paris. For some years now he has been exploring the uncertain zones of the city limits, collecting images. At once topographic and poetic, his approach captures the unsuspected, silent wealth of this space where greenery meets asphalt. The results can be seen in the book Autour / Around (Éditions VMCF), 2010). Since then, he has concentrated on the so-called “sensitive” areas of the city. He has under- taken a methodical inventory of these territories whose reality exceeds or belies the simple clichés pasted over it.