A Forgotten Future: The Surreal High-Rises of Paris

High Rises of Paris

Laurent Kronental spent four years documenting the “Grand Ensembles” in the Parisian suburbs and the generation living within its walls.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, the French government built the high-rise housing to accommodate a rural exodus and inflow of immigrants. Today, the colossal buildings and its residents are a forgotten (and when remembered, often stigmatized) part of the city’s history. Yet despite being marginalized and disregarded, these surreal estates bear an uncanny grandeur, a mass of unapologetic concrete offering a memory of a once-promised utopia.

“For Kronental, the neglect of his human and architectural subjects are parallel concerns. But unlike some gloomy media reports, which sometimes fail to create any empathy for the individual in their hellish depictions of the projects, Kronental strove to capture a sense of humanity and poetry in his photos,” writes Jordan G. Teicher of The Washington Post.

With a 4×5 analog camera in hand, Kronental visited senior citizens still living there, people he considers the “memory of the locus.” His website reads:

These ‘monuments’, as living memories of their time, hold a fragile force: that of a younger generation that did not see itself age

View Laurent Kronental’s series, “Souvenir d’un Futur” (Memory of a Future) here.

His work will be on display at the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand from December 18, 2015 to February 2016 in Paris, France.