Travelling to the outskirts
As part of the F14 project about France and its territory which brought together 14 photographers who exhibited at Arles in 2006, and in amicable response to Raymond Depardon’s work on France using an 8x10 camera, Cyrus Cornut presents “Travelling to the outskirts”. “It’s not arriving that matters but getting there”. Photography is a mental state for me. I came to it through travel. Conversely, the static nature of the image has the power to transport the viewer. In the rich diversity of France’s landscapes, the suburbs remain “anti-travel” zones. Built hastily and with a short history, they far from project the image of romantic France that everyone agrees on. They are dormitory towns rather than tourist sites, business zones rather than historic areas. Large scale is the urban form of choice. The principal of a classical city has been inversed. Constructions are no longer the result of a designed urban space, nor do they fit into the urban framework. What emerges is a series of platonic solid shapes, inspired by the points set out in the Athens Charter on social housing, where public spaces become cowardly and residual. Town planning has adapted to the motorised vehicle and pedestrians no longer serve a purpose. Territories have geographical, economic, political and cultural centres, and suburbs are their nerve centres. They are as fragile as any entity that has grown too quickly, they nourish fantasy and reinforce a good number of questions concerning our time. “Travelling to the outskirts” is an extraspection. It’s the story of a real journey to the suburbs of “my town” that seemed to be, only yesterday, as far away as some of the world’s great cities. Cyrus Cornut.