Paris la Metisse, an exhibition of black and white photographs by two French citizens at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, has curious origins.
Florence Batatiere and Morgan Hael Jypsian come from the Yvelines, a suburb on the outskirts of Paris. One day several years ago, when they were students of the foreign languages programme at La Sorbonne in Paris, Jypsian got mugged in Paris. A few days later, he learnt that the person who attacked him was Moroccan. Instead of reacting in a way that would involve a police complaint and investigation, Jypsian (and Batatiere, whom he spoke to in detail about the incident) chose a more profound outlet: art.
In an effort to avoid racial prejudice and to learn about another culture, they decided to travel to Morocco by bicycle (a 3,000km trip) in 2004. It took them three months. They came back with pictures, paintings and poems that were shown at cultural and artistic centres in France.
Tibetan Mandala, Vicennes Pagoda XIIth
It was their attempt to defend cultural diversity and promote tolerance between people whose origins and ways of life are different.
The end of that Moroccan visit also meant they were revisiting their own city—Paris. They gradually drew in bits of the world that make Paris a diverse metropolis. These Parisian photos evoked the aromas and perfumes of distant lands without leaving the capital. From Goutte d’Or, Little Jaffna, the Place Vendôme in the Bastille area and Belleville in the Latin Quarter to Faubourg Saint-Antoine and Ménilmontant—the celebrated Parisian areas find resonance in the latest show.
Batatiere says the idea behind Paris la Metisse, or Paris the Melting Pot, is to “reveal the links and relationships between human beings whose identities and origins are different. This work is an abstract attempt to portray a humanist vision of the Parisian melting pot. And it does so through black and white pictures representing slices of life captured during the tiny trips up and down the streets of the French capital for various events, festivals or as part of the daily routine…”
Their first such effort was a decade ago. In 2000, when Batatiere graduated with a master’s in foreign languages from La Sorbonne, both of them undertook a 10,000km trip of Europe. Their photographic work was intended to underline the European dream. Their exhibition was well-recieved—it showed for a year in France, Italy and Germany.
Paris la Metisse will be on from 5-11 May, at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.