Paris earned the nickname of 'ville lumière' (City of Light) from having been an ideological home to the age of enlightenment and for it's famous street lights. Like these lights, the 19th century Haussmanian architecture of the city has come to typify the French capital in most outsiders' imagining of the city. So Christophe Maout's vision of Paris in HomeLux might come as a bit of a shock. HomeLux is shot on the city's periphery, specifically off the boulevard périphérique, the main ring road surrounding the city. The périphérique ferries traffic around the city and is one of the few areas of Paris where towerblocks appear regularly. Many of these blocks bear the name of major brands in the form of brightly-coloured neon crowns, an advertising practice that is forbidden within the center of the city. The series struck me as a kind of allegory, a preserved city, suspended in time, surrounded by an army of advancing towerblocks shouting their commercial messages at the constant flow of cars circumnavigating the city. The rooftop perspectives in these night exposures give the buildings a different quality, their neon halos seeming to give each building its distinct personality. I met Maout at a dinner last December and, as he gave us a lift home, we drove past many of these buildings lighting up that freezing winter night. A very different view of the city of light.
The mysterious mus-mus collective have just launched their @Paris project online. The project was based on the idea of finding out how photographers today see Paris and think about the Paris they see." There are some big names in here (Stephen Shore, Alec Soth) but also a lot of discoveries. I did find a lot of interesting material (Céline Clanet's image above is a favourite), but overall I felt slightly frustrated. Paris has become a difficult city to photograph because of its past, but for me, as a group, these photographs did not sufficiently get under the skin of the city. The website also includes texts by Darius Himes and Ulrich Baer, which are worth a read.
It seems like Paris may be having a bit of a revival as a photographic subject with Eggleston's Paris commission for the Fondation Cartier and now this: mus-mus, the mysterious people behind the @600 project, are back with the @Paris project. As for @600, this project will collect images of Paris by photographers from all over the world taken any time before 14 July 2009. For the jury they have managed to secure the services of Stephen Shore and Gil Blank. (via Mrs Deane)