Spatial Aspiration

Laurent Kronental documents the lives of residents in the Grands Ensembles, the distinctive housing projects around Paris. The series, Souvenir d’un Futur, references the original hope invested in these monuments of an imagined social utopia, erected between the 1950s and 1980s to address the city’s housing crisis. Initially drawn to the Modernist character of the buildings, the citizens within provided Kronental with his real impetus: an examination of personal histories, and the inextricable link to the past ambition and slow neglect of these emblems of optimism. Following their construction, an influx of immigrants and the increasing presence of migrants proved divisive, compounded by their vilification in the media. The artist’s analogue photographs record the buildings’ futuristic concrete geometry while humanising them through their residents, challenging prejudices and delivering a portrait of poetic defiance.