In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin

Photographie Reine Ruthza par Sophie Comtet Kouyaté (gauche) et PAST PRESENT FUTURE par Oakland International High & Civic Design Lab (droite)

Photography Reine Ruthza by Sophie Comtet Kouyaté (left) and PAST PRESENT FUTURE by Oakland International Media Academy (right)

By Villa Albertine
This new exhibition examines cultural trends in the rapidly changing neighborhoods situated at the ‘outskirts’ of major urban centers, namely Saint-Denis, Paris and Oakland, California.

How many stories are left untold? The new exhibition In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin examines cultural trends in the rapidly changing neighborhoods situated at the ‘outskirts’ of major urban centers, namely Saint-Denis, Paris and Oakland, California. The exhibition explores the ways in which Saint-Denis and Oakland create solutions to urban challenges by emphasizing community solidarity, social justice, urban innovation, and artistic intervention. By examining Saint-Denis’ and Oakland’s growing influence––often overshadowed by Paris and San Francisco, respectively––the exhibition highlights the symbolic reversal of the center and the periphery. Up to this point, history has focused on the dominant narrative. In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin highlights the marginalized, forgotten stories of Saint-Denis and Oakland. The exhibition centers on those who challenge social norms, forge connections, amplify marginalized voices, and celebrate collaboration. 

Both Saint-Denis and Oakland have long histories of artistic creation. In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin highlights artists as essential to forming creative, inclusive cities. By collecting and presenting together archival images, models, paintings, artistic installations, objects, and videos, this exhibition explores cultural and social practices in urban planning. It focuses on the inhabitants of Saint-Denis and Oakland––their daily lives, their untold stories––to present a nuanced depiction of cities.  

Co-produced by Villa Albertine San Francisco, a new cultural institution dedicated to the exchange of arts and ideas between France and the US, and California Humanities, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to building connections through the public humanities, this exhibition is part of a greater mission to deepen cultural relations between France and the US. In the Banlieues/Centering the Margin follows two other projects furthering this mission: a short documentary, Empowering Culture in our Cities, and a publication, Translating Cities and Cultures, which explore the role of culture in cities and their marginalized neighborhoods. This exhibition invites us to reflect on international cooperation to find solutions to today’s most urgent problems. 

Conceived by the Franco-American curatorial duo Laure Gayet (Légendes Urbaines) and June Grant (BlinkLAB Architecture), the exhibition has three parts: a historical rereading of the urban, social, and cultural construction of the two cities; a narration of the lived experience of residents on the fringes of the dominant image of society; and, a Franco-American review of tools and projects based on key themes. In France, the exhibition opens in at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal from June 15 to the end of August 2022. In California, the exhibition opens on July 21 at SPUR, an urban planning non-profit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in various locations in Oakland beginning in August 2022. 

In partnership with

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California Humanities

California Humanities, a partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities - focused on ideas, conversation, and learning. The nonprofit organization has offered grants and programs across the state since 1975. For more information, please visit or follow California Humanities on Facebook at @calhumanities. 

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SPUR is a public urban planning organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Working on innovative practices to address contemporary urban planning issues, SPUR will present the In the Banlieues exhibition from July 21 to November 30, 2022. For more information, visit

Logo Pavillon de l'Arsenal
Pavillon de l'Arsenal

The Pavillon de l'Arsenal is an information, documentation, and exhibition center for urban planning and architecture in Paris and the Paris metropolitan. The center will present the In the Banlieues exhibition from June 15 to the end of August 2022. For more information, visit the Pavillon de l’Arsenal on Facebook at @PavillonArsenal.

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Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris Nord

Fondée à Saint-Denis en 2001, la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris Nord, unité de recherche soutenue par le CNRS et les universités Paris 8 et USPN (UAR 3258), est une structure d’accueil, d’impulsion, de promotion et de diffusion de la recherche en sciences humaines et sociales,  s’appuyant sur la recherche orientée projet. Elle est membre du Réseau National des MSH.

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blink!LAB architecture

We are a research-based architecture and urban design practice.  Our focus is spatial transform through designurban advocacy and technology exploration. Open and collaborative, Blink!LAB is a small multi-disciplinary practice bridging between economics, architectural form, urban design, industrial design, furniture and fabrication.  Because we are designers committed to new forms of knowledge through making, we prefer to situate ourself in the middle of catalytic design- where new challenges and emerging opportunities are addressed through integrated-thinking and design. 

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Légendes urbaines

Parcours artistiques, spectacle vivant, architecture temporaire, graphisme : quelle que soit sa forme, l’art en espace public puise dans les représentations, imaginaires, histoires qui habitent les lieux. Il fabrique de nouvelles situations urbaines et sociales, suscite un nouveau rapport à l’espace, à l’autre, au collectif.

836M Logo

836M is an innovative foundation based in San Francisco that brings contemporary art to life through exhibitions and by supporting emerging and established artists. Beginning in 2021, 836M initiates partnerships in Europe promoting diversity, social inclusion, and dialogue between cultures. A laboratory for artists to explore new creations from Paris to San Francisco, 836M supports the In the Banlieues program in all its dimensions: exhibitions, artist residencies, and cultural exchanges between the two countries. For more information visit the 836M on Facebook at

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Art Explora

The brainchild of entrepreneur and philanthropist Frédéric Jousset, the Art Explora Foun-dation, which launched in November 2019, aims to close the cultural divide through a series of initiatives in France and abroad, drawing on new technologies and mobile systems open to everyone. It seeks to connect works with their audiences and to support new creation and innovation. The Foundation is supporting eight residencies for the inaugural season of Villa Albertine.  


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arte logo

ARTE is a public service, cultural, and European media group. 

Within ARTE France Digital Department, the team's aim is to support creativity, originality, and public service innovation for cross-platform and online projects.  

We co-produce linear projects for digital distribution on and social platforms as well as interactive and immersive projects, including video games. 

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Institut français

The Institut français is responsible for France’s international cultural program. Supervised by both the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and by the Ministry of Culture, it promotes French culture abroad through cultural exchange initiatives. Operating in a space where the arts, intellectual exchange, cultural and social innovation, and linguistic partnerships interact and intersect, it is also responsible for promoting the French language and the sharing of works, artists, and ideas all over the world. The Institut français is one of Villa Albertine's main French partners.


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Saint Denis

The Cities of Oakland (@VisitOakland) and Saint-Denis(@VilleSaintDenis), a partner in the international cooperation program, have been active participants in the In the Banlieues program since its inception in 2018.

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Périféeries 2028

Périféeries 2028 est le nom de la candidature du territoire de Saint-Denis, Plaine Commune et de la Seine-Saint-Denis au titre de Capitale européenne de la culture 2028.

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City of Oakland

The Cities of Oakland (@VisitOakland) and Saint-Denis(@VilleSaintDenis), a partner in the international cooperation program, have been active participants in the In the Banlieues program since its inception in 2018.

Logo Bank of the West - BNP Paribas
Bank of the West

Bank of the West is a fundamentally different bank – it has the strongest environmental stance of any major US bank, a diverse leadership team, and a global reach and impact through its parent company BNP Paribas. It also has a long tradition of supporting the arts.