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Incidents

Well before the financial crisis and its increase in layoffs, since the "incidents" of November, 2005 in suburbs, the ideas of uprising and revolution in France was in most people's minds, arousing fear or hope. The archetypal image of the representation of such events is certainly the storming of the Bastille. The prison-fortress which only contained seven prisoners at the time of its storming, didn’t represent more than the emblem of royal power. Fascinated by Robert Hubert's painting, The Bastille in the first days of its demolition, by its frontal view, the jail occupying almost all the picture, and by these effects of romantic light, restless sky and smokes, I began to search some recent architectural emblems of state, with the idea to produce a similar image. I limited myself to the most striking examples, products of town planning of the years 60-70. I chose the New Towns for their realization of an urban utopia produced by an "authoritarian decision". A new architecture intended for the poor men to resume the arguments of Guy Debord (1). City halls, prefectures, courts, my small Bastilles: these institutional buildings were mostly built in the brutalist style of the period, showing clearly their function of governance : a dystopian architecture designed on the theme of fortress or military bunker ? The sociologist Mike Davis speaks about an "invisible riot" in 92 in Los Angeles (2). A riot made invisible by the media which prefered to show only a black uprising of the population while it was multiethnic. The same underestimation to describe the riots of 2005 in France, the same attempt to play down the facts : incidents for some, social unrest for the others. The police notes that the rioters proceeded by small very mobile groups, rather than a frontal assault (3). No gang, no organization. Very mobile, almost invisible? Recently, The Invisible Committee, in its book The uprising which comes, makes the promotion of this method: "Not become visible but take advantage of the anonymity in which we were relegated. The fire of 2005 offers the model." (4) The series Incidents organize these ideas of diminishing reality, euphemism and invisibility to deliver finally only the symbols of power and revolt : the architecture (scene of the incidents), smokes, fires, files and papers thrown from broken windows. The actors are absent, the rioters are nowhere to be seen, the forces of order deserted, the population hides in their homes..

 

1 cf  p96, chapter 7 “Territorial domination” , Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord, Rebel Press 2004.
2  « Beyond Blade Runner » in Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster by Mike Davis, New York, Metropolitan Books, 1998.
3 cf p8, Quand les banlieues brûlent …by  Laurent Mucielli, Véronique Le Goaziou, éditions La  Découverte (2006)
4 cf p102, L’insurrection qui vient by Commité invisible. éditions La Fabrique (2007)