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Mémoires photographiques des coins perdus: Les Enfants de la Cité Lesage-Bullourde et Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris 1949-54: photographer Marilyn Stafford's work in Toronto

Marilyn Stafford Alliance Francaise Exhibition March 8th – April 3 2017 Toronto

Mémoires photographiques des coins perdus: Les Enfants de la Cité Lesage-Bullourde et Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris 1949-54

Much travelled and internationally published photographer Marilyn Stafford grew up during the 1930s in Cleveland, Ohio USA. In December 1948, Marilyn moved to Paris via New York, and in 1951 briefly sang with a small music ensemble at Chez Carrère near the Champs Elysées. At the club she met Edith Piaf and also became friends with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who both encouraged her work as a photographer.

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 by Julia Winckler, University of Brighton, who is curator of the exhibit. This process allowed for the images to be enlarged revealing 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. Accompanied by a film made by Ian Hockaday – shown as part of the exhibit.

Julia Winckler  February 2017

Exhibition curated by Julia Winckler (with the support of SSHRG Canada From Streets to Playgrounds) and with an exhibition brochure with texts by Prof. Adrienne Chambon (University of Toronto) and Julia Winckler. Exhibition take place in conjunction with a co-curated exhibition (with colleagues Adrienne Chambon, Ernie Lightman, Bethany Good (University of Toronto) and Vid Ingelevics and Mary Anderson (Ryerson) at the City of Toronto Archives gallery that focuses on historical representations of children in Toronto’s Ward area and relaunches on 20 March.

Radio program with Radio Canada's Line Boily here:

Private view March 8th 2017 (film screening Ian Hockaday)


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