Arnau Bach is a self-taught photojournalist currently based out of Barcelona, Spain. In Bach’s series, entitled “Suburbia”, he ventures into Clichy Sous Bois, a suburb north of Paris, France where in November 2005 Zyed Benna (15 years old) and Bouna Traore (17 years old) died after being electrocuted by an electric generator while hiding from police in their neighborhood. In a matter of days, suburbs surrounding Paris would erupt in flames from violent protests from the disenfranchised communities of color outraged from the death of the two teens.
“The blurred and decontextualized images of looted shops, cars in flames and uncontrollable violence triggered the start of this report. One year later I decided to go there to try to better understand a reality that was only being shown when the outbreaks of violence were attractive enough to get onto the media agenda. In 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2012 I went to department 93 in Paris, specifically to Seine St. Denis, one of Paris’s largest suburbs.
Lack of jobs and the virtual absence of facilities and space for leisure means young people spend hours on the streets. Groups of friends, without any occupation, kill time on the corners of the peculiar and labyrinthine urban structure of their neighborhoods.
They pay close attention to their image and show their clothes’ brand. The presence of high-cylinder motorcycles and the latest generation mobile phones are surprising in a place where people are condemned to lives of desperate poverty. This flashy lifestyle is paid for by drug trafficking, an activity that becomes relatively easy in neighborhoods where a police presence is practically anecdotal. Meanwhile, most families live on public benefits.
This report seeks to reflect the way of life on the street for these gangs of the Paris Suburbs: the gregarious lives of their members and their love for hip-hop culture, together with scenes of daily violence, which are a constant presence in their everyday lives.”