Three photos to show Marseille’s community, architecture and street art. Of course there’s much more to Marseille than this but these are key themes.
Now back in London and having asked others for their comments, I am interested to see for myself how those photos look from a UK perspective and also judge how much I have achieved my aim to represent how I feel about Marseillle in just three photos. And explaining what I mean by them is a useful rigour. I’m particularly trying to show how I feel about modern Marseille and to get away from tourist or cinematic stereotypes.
Marseille’s diverse architecture is represented by my photo of Marseille’s Cathédrale de Notre Dame de la Major but surrounded in a oppressive way by more recent buildings. The visual contrast of this view is to me both appealing and appalling, like so much about Marseille.
The beach volleyball club are playing an interracial game between the sexes. The Frioul isles in the distance were used as a base to quarantine immigrants arriving from the French colonies, whence the diverse “melting pot” community of Marseille, in contrast to much of France. This is the Plage des Catalans, which is free to use, like most Marseille beaches, this is unusual in France, so the beaches in Marseille are places of freedom and community.
I didn’t explicitly mean the two first pictures to complement each other in shape and layout but it’s been pointed out that the compositions are similar, the cathedral central to the first and the net to the second; the adjacency effect due to my layout on the page is striking, if not particularly intended.
Marseille street art is everywhere, from tags to extensive original pieces. There’s an annual street art festival in the streets around Cours Julien. Maybe this looks horrific to an outsider, but understanding street art, tags and graffiti are central to how the Marseillais see Marseille in 2018; local people see it as an integral part of the neighbourhood. This scene is actually in the Panier but the wrecked scooter in the scene is still just as much typical of the anarchic environment.
This explanation is verbal but it could equally be by means of more photos within a series which makes the same points.