Locating Belleville (2017-2018)

© Darian Razdar / 2018

Locating Belleville was a mixed-methods research and creation project in fulfillment of a BA in Social Theory & Practice at University of Michigan. The project includes critical geography scholarship and a gallery exhbition based on field research the artist conducted in the Parisian neighbourhood, Belleville, where he lived in 2017.

Belleville is located in northeast Paris and home to multicultural, immigrant, and working-class communities. The neighbourhood’s social history inspired the conceptual foundation of this project in spatial agency, psychogeography, and world city systems. A methodology centred on everyday life, the project works through mixed embodied methods: public space observation, walking, participant interviews and map annotation, site visits, ambient sound and video recording, photography, and the analysis of print ephemera.

The project’s scholarly contributions are collected in a four-part paper : 1) Literature Review and Synthesis; 2) Exploration of Globality vis-à-vis Locality and Paris vis-à-vis Belleville; 3) Theory how bellevillois.es locate themsleves in the context of a world city, drawing on Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space (image-perform-construct); and 4) Conclusions regarding everyday spatial agency, translocality, and a more equitable world city.

An electronic version of the paper is provided below:

Darian Razdar and Clement Turner / 2018

Locating Belleville mounted as a gallery installation in May 2018 at the Residential College Gallery at the University of Michigan.

This exhibition communicated mixed-methods research to a larger public, engaging visitors in the sights, sounds, and textures of Belleville. 

The contents of the gallery included:
  • Photographic prints of Belleville streetscapes
  • Videographic installation of scenes from Belleville and Parisian monuments (video available by clicking here)
  • Print ephemera retrieved from Belleville cafés, restaurants, galleries, libraries, and community centres
  • Collages created with collected ephemera
  • Annotated maps of Paris by Belleville residents
  • Three interactive maps of Belleville etched onto arcrylic board with buttons allowing visitors to select audio interviews with residents and ambient sound from Belleville

The exhibition was animated by an artist talk and discursive events.