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La Résidence, March-May 2020

Book of photographs accompanied by texts by Ivan Jablonka and Fabrice Arfi

Extract from a text by Ivan Jablonka, historian and sociologist:

Magali Delporte had wanted to work locally for some time, documenting life in her neighbourhood. Her first photos of the confinement show three families leaving for the countryside. But what about the others, those who stayed behind? Magali Delporte decided to postpone “urgent” orders from her clients, even though her press card would have allowed her to work outside. She goes to work, but on the spot.

She leaves her house, as if her camera will protect her, but she remains in the Residence. She puts herself under house arrest. This space enclosed by four streets – rue des Maronites, rue du Pressoir, rue des Couronnes and rue Julien-Lacroix – became her artist’s residence. A given place at a given time: that was her source of inspiration. And she takes advantage of the space-time gap opened up by the covid. In this way, confinement, like a dark miracle, liberated her work.

Extract from a text by Fabrice Arfi, journalist:

When, in March 2020, the first lockdown hit France like a leaden blanket over our lives, a strange phenomenon occurred in the Belleville-Ménilmontant district in north-east Paris.

It happened in a residence made up of heavy 1960s buildings separated by large green spaces: “Le Pressoir”.

At a time when this hideous word ‘distant’ has become part of our collective grammar all over the country, we, the 1,500 inhabitants of ‘Le Pressoir’, have come together.

At a time when the watchword everywhere was withdrawal, we discovered ourselves.

While we had to give ourselves permission to leave our homes, we reconfigured our homes as best we could, without taking any unnecessary risks in the face of the disease that was lurking everywhere.

Condemned to the inside, we invented our outside. Little things. Improvised concerts, mixing professional and amateur musicians. Group lessons under the tree for the little ones. Sports lessons for older children. Everyone helping each other with food shopping. Little solidarity between generations. And, of course, there are also the inconveniences that come with living in a village…

And in the midst of this strange existential laboratory, a kind of urban kibbutz placed under the bell of a global pandemic, there was Magali Delporte, ‘our’ photographer, who captured those unique moments that have made ‘Le Pressoir’ one of Paris’s best-kept secrets.