Socialist Worker

Outspoken: speaking out in Paris and London

by Laura Cooke
Issue No. 2251

This art project connects and compares the experiences of young people from working class areas of Paris and London.

Its London launch event saw young people from east London perform spoken word pieces written with mentors MC Angel and Deanna Rodger.

The project began in Paris in 2009. Artist Melik Ohanian brought together spoken word artists and rappers from Paris’s working class Goutte D’Or neighbourhood—famed for its large migrant population.

The installation includes a screen showing snippets of a series of talking faces. Nearby headphones each play a different dialogue or poem.

The poems are mostly out of time with the images on the screen. But for fleeting moments eyes and ears correspond as the words match the image of the young person to whom they belong.

The installation deserves a visit. The next stage will see the poems of young east Londoners added to those of the Parisians.

Although the translations do not always exactly capture the points expressed, they do provide an understanding of the challenges faced by young members of France’s minority communities.

The project makes clear that many of the issues facing these communities are the same in both Paris and London.

Confusion over identity and the feeling of not “fitting in” resonates in many of the poems.

The racism faced by young British and French people is mentioned by almost all of the poets.

East London rapper Harim told Socialist Worker, “David Cameron and Vince Cable are full of prejudice. They are creating barriers that we should be breaking down.

“Their ‘Big Society’ is bullshit.”

Outspoken! Rising Voices/Peripherical Communities
Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Until Saturday 14 May

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Article information

Tue 10 May 2011, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2251
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