These Intimate Photos Dispel Myths about Paris' So-Called 'No-Go Zones'

Artist Marvin Bonheur grew up in 'the 93', just outside Paris. His film photos tell stories beyond the media's usual, crime-heavy focus.
Pierre Longeray
Paris, FR
December 4, 2019, 9:15am
Marvin Bonheur renaissance
"Planète 93" (Planet 93). All photos by Marvin Bonheur

This article originally appeared on VICE France.

Marvin Bonheur didn't have a clue what he was doing when he started taking pictures. He began by shooting friends on a digital camera. Then, he found his mother’s photo albums, which included a bunch of “embarrassing pictures that your parents bust out when you bring your friends or your girl home”, Marvin laughs. That’s what inspired him to use analogue photography to talk about his childhood in the Parisian projects. “Film has the ability to evoke memories with its texture. It allows me to find a sort of nostalgia in the pictures.”


It was only after Alzheimer and Therapy, the first two chapters of the photo series Trilogie du bonheur or Happiness Trilogy (a play on his surname of the same meaning), that Marvin really started believing in his dream of becoming a photographer. “In between the two chapters, I’ve received a lot of attention. It’s quite surprising for someone living in an isolated neighbourhood, where you keep on hearing that art is not for you," he says. After appearing in The Guardian and collaborating with famous people, Marvin feels that his alter ego, “the insecure kid from the projects”, is slowly fading away. The last chapter of his trilogy, Renaissance, presents this new period of his life full of hope and dreams.

With these shots of neighbourhood football tournaments and kebabs shared with friends, Marvin concludes his work on the suburbs of Paris. His plan is to head across the Channel next. “I’ll try to find a subject in the housing projects in London and trace back their childhood in pictures to show the differences and similarities with the suburbs of Paris,” he says. While we wait for this new project, you can follow his work on Instagram.

Scroll down to see more photos from the series.


This article originally appeared on VICE FR.