Organized at ENSAPC, with the participation of the National School of Architecture in Versailles
May 4, 2016 

Since Walter Benjamin’s works on Baudelaire, we have understood just how much the city is itself a subject of literature, film, and other visual arts. Since then, other models of the city and its development have appeared, including, on the arts side, a deepening focus on situations that are no longer occasions for observation but for interaction (or simply action).

Immersed as it is in an explicitly experimental urban context, the city of Cergy and its immense neighbor (Paris) are omnipresent in the artistic consciousness of ENSAPC students. Can we ask from the perspective of the city the same questions we pose from the perspective of our disciplines?

Other shake-ups are coming: the city’s major actors, urbanism, architecture, and landscape design do not necessarily cross our path. And specifically urban practices are emerging that do not correspond to the traditional sphere of our schools.

Organized by François Bon, writer and professor, and Antoine Idier, research coordinator, and with the participation of the National School of Architecture in Versailles, this day-long event was intended to take stock of these questions, to open up new paths for educational exploration, and to encourage both our work and our memory.


Exhibition and publication within the framework of the creative research workshop “Îles de France et d’ailleurs”
March 2016

From March 12 to 26, 2016, the French National Archives (Pierrefitte-sur-Seine site) hosted “Îles de France et d’ailleurs” (loosely, “islands near and far,” with a play on the name of the French capital region, “Île-de-France”). The exhibition opened our eyes and ears to the experience of the retired migrants who helped build the identity of the Île-de-France region during the postwar economic boom. Retracing lives over the past fifty years, it made visible what had been invisible and marginalized (or even excluded) in dominant narratives.

The project was the fruit of a creative research workshop led by Carole Benzaken and Sylvie Blocher, artists and faculty members at ENSAPC. It was conceived in partnership with the Migrant Family and Social Service Association and the National Archives. From 2014 to 2016, nine ENSAPC students met with two dozen migrant retirees now living in the Paris region. They brought their encounters to life using various mediums (photography, video, painting, performance, and more). By collecting these individual memories, they helped compose a collective memory.

A catalogue of the exhibition was published with an afterword by Daniel Maximin. The volume reviews the work of the young artists and the migrants’ life stories (192 pages, ISBN 978-2-9543880-2-1).

Participants: Abdallah, Ramdan Adek, Cherif Aït Addi, Wagul Camara, Ouerdia Chemakh, Monsieur Coulibaly, Makhan Diarra, Miloud El Masbah, Monsieur Georges, Madame Hul, Makiko, Martine Ly Foung, Isidore Nkunzumwami, Salvatore Porto, Monsieur Ramiro, Maria Saavedra, Hussain Safdar, Aïcha Sarfak, Monsieur Siby, Alia Belgsir, Céline Drouin-Laroche, Maya Gering, Yuni Hong, Flora Moricet, Karla Tobon-Pumarada, Fotima Sharipova, Zukhra Sharipova, and Valérie Vial.

With support from France’s National Archives and Médecins du Monde.