◀︎  Exhibitions

In the Banlieues: Oakland/Saint-Denis

Collectively Building the City

exhibition presented until August 28, 2022 Scientific curators:
Laure Gayet, urban planner, Légendes Urbaines
June A. Grant, architect, blinkLAB architecture

Regardless of what they are called—suburbs, outskirts, banlieues—this exhibition highlights the symbolic reversal of the center and the periphery through an exploration of how Oakland, California, and Saint-Denis, near Paris, are asserting their influence and inventing solutions to the challenges of inequity and accelerated urban development that metropolises are facing through artistic movements, social struggles, and urban innovations.

Combining urban, artistic, and social approaches, In the Banlieues is an exhibition that relates the key moments in the history of the two cities and reveals their contributions to current urban planning practices through real-life experiences and illustrated accounts. It shines light on movers and shakers, bridge-builders, champions of seldom heard groups, and revealers of spaces and models of cooperation. These stakeholders summon sensitivity to build spaces on a human scale.

Conceived by the Franco-American curatorial duo Laure Gayet (Légendes Urbaines) and June A. Grant (blinkLAB architecture), the exhibition offers a three-pronged approach: a historical rereading of the urban, social, and cultural construction of the two cities; a narration of the lived experience of residents on the fringes of the mainstream image of society; and a Franco-American review of tools and projects around the key themes of cultural urbanism, communities, inequity, the collective, and climate justice.

“Gathering a hybrid composition of archival images, models, paintings, artistic installations, objects, and videos, this exhibition explores cultural and residential practices in urban planning. Places, people, and stories are at their core, drawing far from clichéd portraits of composite suburbs. There is an urgent need to recognize those who live there on a daily basis, work, and create there.” — Laure Gayet and June A. Grant, curators of the In the Banlieues: Oakland/Saint-Denis exhibition.

Presented concurrently in Paris, Saint-Denis, San Francisco, and Oakland, and coproduced by Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris and the planning agency SPUR in San Francisco, In the Banlieues brings together artists, urbanists, entrepreneurs, and researchers to observe the way in which cities work in France and California with the shared conviction that our cities must be built collectively.

Co-produced by the French institution Villa Albertine San Francisco and the US non-profit California Humanities, the exhibition is a new chapter in the international co-operation program initiated in 2018 that has to date resulted in a short documentary filmed in the two cities about the place of culture in the cities on the margins, as well as a publication, Translating Cities and Cultures. Starting in the summer of 2022, the program will stage public exhibitions and programs around several key moments, guided by a multidisciplinary committee composed of artists, academics, political leaders, and urban planners.


Free admission until August 28, 2022

The exposition is co-produced by the Pavillon de l’Arsenal; the Villa Albertine in San Francisco and California Humanities ; in partnership with SPUR San Francisco, la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Paris Nord ; with the support of the foundation 836M, l’Institut Français, la Fondation Art Explora; in collaboration with the cities of Oakland and Saint-Denis, Périféeries and with the participation of ARTE.

Graphic design : Fanny Myon

Photograph of Reine Ruthza by Sophie Comtet Kouyaté (left)
Oakland International Media Academy (right)