Alliance Francaise Toronto Exhibition
March 8th to April 3rd 2017

Photographic memories of lost spaces: The children of Cité Lesage-Bullourde and Boulogne Billancourt, Paris 1949-1954​

Between 1949 and the mid 1950s, Marilyn made photographs in several different Parisian neighbourhoods. Her compelling images of children from Cité Lesage-Bullourde near the Place de la Bastille, provide rare insights into the daily lives of children in one of Paris’ poorest districts.

Marilyn’s photographs of the children who made these streets their playground, document a community whose lives and experiences had been completely underrepresented. Her ability to engage with them provides for posterity captivating visual traces of a vanished neighbourhood, long dispersed when the area was eventually demolished and gentrified.

The exhibition also features photographs taken in Boulogne-Billancourt and Marilyn’s pioneering fashion work, which for the first time took models out of the studio and onto the streets, applying a social documentary approach to the fashion shoot.

The few surviving contact sheets, negatives and prints from Marilyn’s archive of this period have been digitized and painstakingly repaired, allowing them to be enlarged to reveal new detail. The archival material also has a life of its own, revealing Marilyn’s working practices, her photographic eye, and the editorial choices she made by cropping and cutting, making marks with crayons and stapling contact sheets and individual images together. They have the patina of time embedded within them and contain multiple stories as we encounter and hold the gaze of the children Marilyn photographed.​

Curated by Julia Winckler with the assistance of SSHRC research grant From Streets to Playgrounds