Series of 7 images commissioned by Euroméditerannée and FNAC, Marseilles, consisting of 4 light boxes (each 40 x 55 cm) and 3 billboards (each 170 x 250 cm).
Euroméditerranée is a large-scale gentrification project in Marseille that will redefine the harbors and old center of Marseilles. 90% of this area is inhabited by immigrants from the Maghreb. It is a neighborhood which is very lively and at the time in serious decline. But these inhabitants are forced to make space for a more up-market public, while no provisions are being made to integrate them.
Edwin Zwakman’s contribution to the photo project (commissioned by the property developer Euroméditerranée and the FNAC) addresses this blind spot through mild agitprop. He made nearly 2000 photographs of the development sites, scale models and publicity material. Zwakman focussed on three Euroméditerranée locations: the elevated highway leading into the area, Place Marceau in the centre of the neighborhood and Port Joliette at the other end near the sea. On each photograph he inserted an image of an iconic Arab monument which he found on the internet. Matching only color and perspective, but leaving the low-resolution of the web-image visible.
This series finds a parallel in Zwakman’s series of fictional UN-operations, in which he commented on the difficulty to mediate in alien environments. Being an outsider from multicultural Holland, where mutual ignorance constitutes tolerance, Zwakman felt ill-equipped to relate to France’s long history of social unrest.
While the works were on their way to the Fonds Communal de la Ville de Marseille (municipal collections Marseilles), the November 2005 violence flared up throughout France. But not in Marseille, where the immigrants live not in the suburbs but in the city center. It is as yet uncertain whether the project will be shown in the foreseeable future.