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Grand Paris: Here and Now

Pierre-Olivier Deschamps went to visit 57 suburban territories which will be served in few years by the Grand Paris Express, a strategic transport project in Ile-de-France to connect various cities of the area.
Spending two years travelling throughout urban and peri-urban landscapes that will be soon irrigated by a new public transport system, Pierre-Olivier Deschamps has, in this way, formed a solid base of memory before the begining of those major constructions.
The photographic campaign, made with a photographic chamber, has produced a serie of more than 4000 pictures all along several hundred of kilometres.

For each place, once the setting is defined, [Pierre-Olivier Deschamps] inserts in his composition a bitter, a lighthouse, or an emergence, a type of building, a bridge, archs, just sometimes a building higher than others. This is the here. Then we can recognize Cachan, Arcueil, Noisy-le-Champ... In Crteil, the big cross of the hospital can be seen from everywhere and, like a landmark, it appears on most of the pictures. The now, is the unpredictable, the accident, unexpected light effect, a storm, a shape going through the frame. In a picture from Nanterre, the sun is coming through the buildings and is drawing a rectangle of ligth on the railways, where the station will be constructed.
Characters, with their clothes, their origins, give us informations on populations and helps dating the shot. Little by little, the photographer's eyes make the suburban landscape theirs. Natural space, long since disappeared, gave way to an accumulation of shapes, lines, often chaotic volumes. Then the shot is more than the recording of reality; it has to go beyond the labyrinthine aspect, and to offer an understandable reading. Enabling the viewer to feel immersed in the landscape, hence, for instance, the importance granted to the ground. The focal distance used allows a natural vision, which seemed essential to Pierre-Olivier Deschamps to ensure the sustainability for his work, and to establish a photographic background, which, eventually, tells the story of these suburban landscapes.

Extract of Sylvie Groueff text, Hors srie revue Urbanisme, n53.

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