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A public order of the city of Aubervilliers

The unexpected was predictable. It was enough to look at the history of Aubervilliers, to question the municipal geography, to look at the maps and to read the Parisian proximity and the cut that constituted the construction of the canal, to remember the distinct destinies of the different parts of this territory. The west and its industrial history, with its large closed and laborious land holdings. The south-east, its popular suburbs and its manufacturing and workers’ factories. The northeast and its irrigated plain, preserving the lines of a market gardening past. Its city center, heir to a modest and peasant village.

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Lover of urbanities and bearer of words, I surveyed all of this. And yet. Walker and photographer, I was fascinated by the ability of Aubervilliers to offer so many different landscapes and sensations. Some districts crystallize in their architecture and urban planning more than two centuries of history. Suburban buildings, brick factories and their chimneys, large complexes and recent constructions rub shoulders and intertwine. Surprise is everywhere; the unexpected on every street corner. We are far from the unity of place, time and action of classical theater. A stone’s throw from the Théâtre de la Commune, it is rather a popular play that is played here: a single place but multiple temporalities, a thousand actions and as much intrigue.

Then there are all those who have made their contribution. I discovered in Aubervilliers the very special affection that the inhabitants have for their city. Of course, everyone is attached to their territory, but there is a peculiar tenderness among Albertivillarians towards their community. Testimonies have taken many forms. I will remember this “Aubervilliers, this is an engaging but tiring city”, which sounds like a confession and a declaration. Despite the difficulties of life and urban annoyances, we love Aubervilliers. So, when I walk in its streets and avenues, the phrase of Jack Ralite that I have been quoted scans my steps and resonates in my imagination: “The monument of Aubervilliers is his people”.

Philippe MONGES

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