Mr. Cornut, you travelled to a variety of French suburbs for these pictures. Why?
I was fascinated by these places because you really don’t have any reason at all to go there, if you don’t actually live there. I wanted to visit these estates as though they were noteworthy buildings, like a tourist might.
What exactly did you find so fascinating there?
I asked myself how anybody could ever have thought that the solution to the demographic problems of the time would be found in this shape. The Pablo Picasso estate in Nanterre with the nickname, the Cloud Towers: You can imagine the idea behind this group of towers, whose tops reach into the clouds and whose facades are painted so that they look like clouds, with their porthole windows. But the reality is different. Concrete towers with windows in absurd shapes that you’d better not break because you won’t be able to describe the shape to the glazier; washed out colours that look more like camouflage than the sky.
How were your encounters with the residents?
I had to introduce myself everywhere, to the young people who were training outside. Because of the illegal business that goes on in there, cameras are not very welcome. Life there almost happens outside the general public’s gaze because people from outside the estates barely go there. Only a few of the residents are satisfied with the conditions, with the decay and this concrete desert. Most of all you meet poor people. Happily things have changed there for the better, since I’ve been shooting there between 2007 and 2010, due to politics of recent years. The biggest buildings have been demolished or made smaller and homes have been built in a more humane way, with lovely green spaces: an architecture that allows more of a social mix.