Mamadou chose the word « Soudés » (united / welded in french).
Mamadou is 19 years old and lives in La Fauconnière, a typical French council estate in the low income suburbs North of Paris. The neighbourhood was built in the 60s and is home today to thousands of families, of which a majority have immigrated from North Africa, Sub-saharan Africa and the Middle East.
Mamadou, whose parents came from Mali, chose this word to describe the feeling of his diverse yet united neighbourhood.
As usual I painted the mural freestyle without a plan or any form of sketch. I painted it in the heart estate, making references to the neighbourhood in the patterns. The black and white chiseled zigzags represent the buildings from above, the green equilateral triangles represent the shape of the neighbourhood and the blue waves are for the nearby swimming pool which gives the name « square des sports » to that specific location in the estate.
I was thrilled to be able to work on « Share The Word Project » in a French estate. I’ve been painting the words of people who I feel are ignored since 2013, self-funding murals in slums and refugee camps around the world. But for a huge mural like this one, self funding was never an option, and I want thank Le Grand Palais in Paris for giving me the opportunity to paint Mamadou’s word as part of their « Histoires d’art à Gonesse » project. Big thank you to Vanessa, Martin and Margaux for organising this! Thank you to the owner of the building I3F and Ville de Gonesse ! And of course thank you the inhabitants for being so generous with me!
The MNK96 is a group of fans supporting the S.M.Caen, a football club in Normandy playing in the french leagues. It is with this group in the football stadium that I started to paint, and design banners, flags, scarves and all sorts of displays.
The MNK96 is my art school and a second family. My friend Spag Bertin and I were pushed to create art in the football stadium by the older fans who contributed to making us artists. We learnt our trades, and made friends with people who have come and helped on many different episodes or Share The Word Project. Of course there is my friend/assistant Dudu, and Abdul Malek, Nono and of course El Afghani!
Can’t wait to be allowed back in the stadium for more fun and creativity!
Picture of Spag Bertin and I, representing our crew outside our borders.
It’s been exactly 10 years since the start of the ongoing civil war in Syria. My thoughts go to the Syrian refugees who after having gone through the most inhumane atrocities, gave me so much faith in humanity.
Here are a few pictures I took in Kawergosk Refugee Camp in Northern Iraq. In 2017, during the battle of Mossul, I spent one month living and painting in a refugee camp with 9500 displaced Kurdish Syrians.
Today half the population of Syria is displaced. It’s such a massive figure that I have trouble realising what that truely means. Listening to people’s stories, sharing meals, and painting people’s words, helped me see this conflict through the feelings and emotions of human beings. Conflicts aren’t just dates, statistics and a few big names seen as winners or loosers. Conflicts are the biggest form of trauma effecting the masses in all sorts of terrible ways. Let’s hope for peace in Syria, let’s keep ourselves informed, let’s keep listening to the Syrian people and let’s keep caring.