Marseille is a book of photographs taken between the end of the 1990s and 2012. A purposely-fragmented portrait of a Mediterranean capital undergoing important urban changes.
Dotted with relics of The Industrial Age – the harbour, viaducts, and housing estates – Marseilles presents a chaotic cityscape surrounded by limestone massifs falling into the sea. The landscape is mineral, the concrete coarse and the plants – which dot the white rocks – ruggedly alive. Human figures flow through: nameless passers-by, nomadic geographies, towards what future?
Many times reconstructed, from rebirth to revival, Marseilles is on the cusp of changing again in the coming years. Yet it remains a horizontal city, to be understood from ground level: from the streets that hold its life, lying flat between the hills that frame it. A fishing village under the sun, stretching away as far as the eye can see.
I started taking pictures of Marseilles almost fifteen years ago, propelled by a fascination for the diverse layers of time, nature and architecture that comprise the city. Over time, I came to experience Marseilles no longer as a photographic subject, but rather as an object of contemplation, a cityscape to take in as one would take in the paths traversing a mountain landscape.
The book as a form is something I feel very strongly about as it can be used to present sequences, build narratives, and give images their place within a continuum.
Marseille is my first photography book, and this project is in collaboration with graphic designer Florine Synoradzki. Together we have sought to give every shot its own specific place and thereby suggest the outline of a walk through the city, enabling the reader to experience the realities of Marseilles’s unique spaces.
Marseilles is European Capital of Culture for 2013
We hope to take part in this celebration. In order to have our book in Marseilles’s bookshops this summer and at the International Photography Festival in Arles, we aim to publish the book before July. Your contributions can help give this project a greater reach and offer a different but unique perspective of this legendary city.
Pages from Marseille: