Since 2019, California Humanities has been a co-producer of an international exchange initiative between Oakland, California, and Saint-Denis, France – two cities on the margins of San Francisco and Paris – which are similar in their diversity, deep and complicated histories, and artistic creativity. The exploration has included cross-disciplinary learning expeditions of artists, urbanists, and civic leaders in each country, a short documentary film, Empowering Culture in our Cities, a publication, Translating Cities and Cultures, and the City/Cité Conversation Series, an online collection of conversations on topics related to international urban innovations. The initiative currently is focused upon In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin: Oakland/Saint-Denis, an exhibition that launched at Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris in June and will launch at SPUR SF on Tuesday, August 23, and at Oakstop in Oakland on Thursday, August 25.
As stated in the exhibition press release, In 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.
Co-curated by June Grant of BlinkLAB Architecture and Laure Gayet of Légendes Urbaines, with input from an international Advisory Committee, the exhibition includes text, poetry, photographs and images, video installations, and artwork from both cities to help provide a greater understanding of each place, illuminate urban narratives and potential urban policy solutions, and connect the people in each city – and their stories and experiences – with the goal of helping to create more equitable cities.
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.
You can learn more about the exhibit here: