“My territories are beyond grasp, and not because they are imaginary, but on the contrary, because I am in the process of outlining them.”
– Gilles Deleuze and Felix Gattari, A Thousand Plateaus
Established in 1968 for the purpose of fragmenting the Île-de-France’s ‘red belt’, the Seine-Saint-Denis department was formed in a way that simultaneously attached it to and isolated it from Paris. Ideologically split from the concomitant capital, it was also demographically, economically, and culturally so, all while still being “the periphery of.” In opposition to Paris’s immutable heritage, the area asserted its own identity through its heterogeneity, the plurality of its voices, and the radicalness of its mutations.
As the 2024 Olympic Games loom, of which it is one of the biggest beneficiaries, the Seine-Saint-Denis finds itself caught up in monumental building sites, whose scope contrasts with the reality on the ground.
Former vast agricultural plains that have become the most extensive industrial area in Europe, it is now suffering from its early urbanization.
The most cosmopolitan department, but also the poorest in mainland France, it is also one of the youngest. Facing a prominent past and a difficult current situation, Seine-Saint-Denis is entering the 2020s with lofty ambitions for the future.
At a time when an army of cranes is working the ground just as much to build a shiny future as to bury an annoying present, it is an entire territory that makes its strata appear to our eyes. Agricultural and industrial, natural and urban, poor and opulent, all these asynchronous layers make up a complex landscape, both spatial and temporal, crossed by a constant balance of power. That opposing the morbid repetition of the identical, of the established order and to re-establish, and the vigorous repetition of the difference, that of the life that disappears and springs again.
Here, the latter has never seemed so beautiful.
But it has also, unfortunately, never seemed so fragile.
Alexandre Silberman (born 1983) is a director and photographer based in Paris (France).
Graduated in Philosophy and in Communication from Lyon III University, he mainly develops long-term documentary projects. Adopting a stratigraphic approach, his work questions the underlying relationships of force between places and their occupants.
This is how the New City/New God series was born, centred on the place of religion in Brasilia and presented at the Red Bull Station (Sao Paulo / Brazil) in 2016. In 2018, his series on the scenography of beauty in the museums of Paris, The Great Beauty, is the subject of a monographic exhibition at the Moritzhof gallery (Magdeburg / Germany). This series is presented the following year at the FotoFestival Lenzburg (Lenzburg / Switzerland). In 2020, Alexandre Silberman is preselected for the Bar Tur Photo Awards, the Palm* Photo Prize, and is among the ten finalists of the Feature Shoot Street Photography Awards (New York / USA). The same year, he was also exhibited at PHOTOIS:RAËL (Tel Aviv / Israel) and at the 15th Nicéphore + Biennale (Clermont-Ferrand / France).
In 2021, his series on Seine-Saint-Denis Differences & Repetitions is part of the selection of the festivals Les Boutographies (Montpellier / France), Photometria (Ionnina / Greece) and Head On Photo Festival (Sydney / Australia). He is also finalist for the Nouvelles Écritures de la Photographie Environnementale prize (La Gacilly / France).
His work has been published in France and internationally.
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