Cal Humanities

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"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

A visual performance artist stands in front of a crowd in an art gallery.

In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin – Saint-Denis/Oakland An International Exhibition Arrives in California

Above Image: Lamyne M at SPUR SF opening of In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin: Oakland/Saint-Denis exhibition. Photo by Robert Ogilvie.

“Sharing our stories is how we claim spatial legitimacy and our claim to place.”

–Laure Gayet, urbanist and June Grant, architect Co-Curators of In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin

After a dynamic launch of In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin in June at Pavillon de l’Arsenal, the urbanism museum in the center of Paris, an exhibition exploring the urban pasts, presents, and futures of Oakland, California and Saint-Denis, France – a duo of cities on the margins of San Francisco and Paris – came stateside.

On August 23, SPUR San Francisco opened its doors to its first exhibition in several years, and on August 25, Telegraph Avenue in Oakland was enlivened by the launch of the exhibit at Oakstop. At both events, Saint-Denis artist Lamyne M began the program by performing a ritual cleanse, and Oakland’s Poet Laureate ayodele nzinga ended the program with a reading of her work. Frederic Jung, the Consul of the French Embassy in San Francisco, provided words of welcome at SPUR, reiterating France’s commitment to cross-cultural partnerships. At the Oakstop event, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf spoke of the importance for Oakland to have visibility on the international stage in this ongoing initiative with Saint-Denis.

A group of people are standing in an art gallery.
Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland’s Poet Laureate ayodele Nzinga at Oakstop opening of In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin: Oakland/Saint-Denis exhibition. Photo by Julie Fry.

Created with the perspectives of historians and artists from both regions, co-curators, Laure Gayet of Légendes Urbaines and June Grant of Blink!LAB Architecture, sought to offer common ground and shared understanding in the midst of differences of culture and language. You can hear more about the curation process by attending City/Cité, a virtual conversation between the co-curators on October 12, 2022 from 10 – 11 am PDT. Click HERE to learn more and register for this online event.

As stated in the exhibition press releaseIn the Banlieues/Centering the Margin reinterprets the critical moments in the history of Oakland and Saint-Denis and illustrates their contribution to current urban planning practices through storytelling. The exhibition shines light on those who challenge social norms, forge connections, speak for those who are rarely heard, and celebrate spaces and models of cooperation that summon sensitivity to build spaces on a human scale. 

Exhibition Hours for In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin: Oakland/Saint-Denis:

Oakstop (1714 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland) Exhibition on display through October 30, 2022

Hours:
Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

SPUR SF (654 Mission Street, San Francisco) Exhibition on display through November 30, 2022

Hours:
Monday: 9:00 am – 1:30 pm and 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Wednesday: 12:00 – 3:00 pm
Thursday: 12:00 – 3:00 pm

Interested in stopping by outside of exhibition hours? Contact publicprograms@spur.org to set up an appointment (Monday through Friday only).

Various shadows flow cross a floor spelling out Oakland Saint-Denis.
Exhibition Opening reflection. Photo by Julie Fry

This project is co-produced by California Humanities and Villa Albertine San Francisco and presented by the Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Paris, SPUR, San Francisco, and Oakstop, Oakland with the support of 836M Foundation, the Institut Français, Périféeries, Art Explora Foundation, the cities of Oakland and Saint-Denis, and Arte. 

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