Cartes postales du bagne

Adventures in Instagram #4

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On my way home from Guyane I stopped off in Paris. Turns out I’ve been staying opposite Rue Crémieux which has recently been featured in international news as one of the most instagrammed streets in Paris due to its brightly painted houses, a stark contrast to the usual Parisian aesthetic of white/grey buildings.

Residents have requested gates be put up as the street is becoming overcrowded not just with tourists but with models and rappers using it as a backdrop for photo shoots and music videos.

In thinking more critically about instagram as a research tool especially when documenting and analysing dark heritage, this story (which on the surface has very little connection to dark tourism or heritage) provides a reminder of the tensions between local and tourist appropriations and representations of certain spaces. Instagram encapsulates the desire to clear out the messy, everyday, inhabited-ness of certain spaces in order to turn them into 2D backdrops.

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Residents find different ways to make their house fronts less photogenic

Similar examples can be found in cities like Detroit where deep recession caused by the sharp decline in manufacturing has resulted in the abandonment and ruination of vast swathes of its once glorious real estate. John Patrick Leary has written on the appropriation of such space by film crews looking for locations which offer a vision of a post-apocalyptic future. The irony of course is that this future is now.

References

Leary, John Patrick, ‘Detroitism: What does “ruin porn” tell us about the Motor City,’ Guernica, 15 January 2011. Available: https://www.guernicamag.com/leary_1_15_11/. Accessed 5 April 2019.

O’Sullivan, Feargus, ‘Their street is famous on instagram and they can’t take it anymore,’ CityLab, 5 March 2019. Available: https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/03/rue-cremieux-paris-instagram-tourists-where-to-take-pictures/584164/. Accessed 5 April 2019.

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