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interview with Wendy Huynh

Wendy Huynh's depiction of the banlieus in Paris is far-removed from the clichéd violent and gloomy images we're used to seeing from these neighborhoods. Her photography is dreamy, fun, and celebrates the life in suburban Paris. 

What inspires you in your city?

I grew up in the Eastern suburbs of Paris, thirty minutes away from the capital. Being so close but at the same time so far from the center helped me realize how the banlieusards (the suburbans) have their own culture in the way they dress, speak and live which is different from the Parisians. 

I really love Paris - its architecture, going to museums and galeries, meeting up with friends at the terrace of a café - but I love it more when I am on the suburban train going back home and being surrounded by groups of young boys and girls from my same town chatting, laughing and listening to music loud without caring whether people would judge them or not. It is this sincerity and honesty I found inspiring in the suburbs and mostly in the people and youth.


What does living in a (European) city mean to you?

Easy! Traveling to different European cities. I've studied in London for four years and I moved back there three months ago to work as a photographer. London is such a culturally rich city and only having to bring my ID and not having to get a visa to study and work here made me feel really lucky. Unfortunately we're not sure if that remains after Brexit...

How has your city changed since you’ve started photographing it?

I have started documenting my city a little over a year ago so the city itself hasn't changed that much, but I always find it fascinating to look at the high school students year after year walking in my town and see how their style and look keep changing!

Do you think the city as a concept is changing?

Yes, definitely. The suburbs are such an interesting subject to look at as I believe they define the limits of the center. The project of the Grand Paris is a good example of a project aiming to expand the limits of Paris in the suburbs by creating train lines, a new periphery. However, I think the city is not only changing geographically but also in the mentality of the inhabitants. I have been documenting the suburbs of London since I came back and other than in Paris where the suburbs are clearly defined and located outside the periphérique, it is interesting to see how in London some people define the suburbs by the time they spend commuting to the center. 

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