Adlan Mansri, our LomoAmigo has taken us with him on a trip, but this time to Marseilles, a city in France that is bathed with sunshine and holds multiple cultural inspirations ! Enter this contrasted universe...
Hello Adlan, we are delighted to welcome you once again ! Could you tell us a bit more about your path, and the projects you have started since last time?
Hey Lomo, glad to be back after all this time. 2017 has been a very eventful year. Last time we spoke, I was going to North Korea. Afterwards, I travelled a lot, especially in Europe, for smaller projects. At the moment, I am in the Middle-East, wandering and finding inspiration as a means to create new projects.
You said you lived in Berlin. Why did you choose Marseilles for this new project?
I was in Marseilles for a shoot organised by the Inrocks, they asked me to go to the northern neighbourhoods to take photos of the rap group, Guirri Mafia, who lives there and document their life in that neighbourhood. Marseilles is I city I initially adore and I spend a lot of time there as a bit of my family lives there. As a consequence, I often go back and forth from Berlin to spend time there. By the way, it is one of my favourite cities in France. I like it's authenticity, it's warmth, the food you can find there. I feel good there, and if I had to come back to France, I'd probably move there.
This new series portrays a world that seems quite harsh and in which young people need to fight in order to earn money, to succeed. Do you think you were able to capture the essence of this city ?
This series was done in the northern quarters, in the municipality of Felix Pyat. I don't think this neighbourhood represents the rest of Marseilles, and luckily so as Felix Pyat is the poorest neighbourhood of France. The people who live there really have a strong determination that allows them to confront whatever they are living everyday. I think, or at least I hope that I managed to capture the essence of this very location, mainly because I was able to meet people that gave me insights on their lives, who shared their reality and with whom I was sincere.
We gave you a film roll of LomoChrome Purple. The results are quite different. Your initial project was rather realistic, centred on the truth behind the suburbs of Marseilles, while this series is more colourful, more oriented towards fantasy ! What does this signify for you?
I wanted a sort of surrealistic dimension like I did with my photos of North Korea. I make the difference between fantasy and surrealism. I think that life in the northern suburbs of Marseilles is a bit surrealistic as there is a big need for basic resources, a high rate of unemployment and no support or funding to help the younger generations. Adding some colour then allows us to have our eyes focused on that, to see the details, without necessarily giving it a side of fantasy which would limit us from seeing these problems. I don't know if it is very clear, but I believe it gives it another social perspective, it allows the audience to see what these residents face everyday.
You also produced a series that seemed more 'backstage', with out Lomo'Instant Wide. What did you think? Did you enjoy the experience?
Felix Pyat and the northern suburbs of Marseilles are the backstage of Marseilles and France. It's the sides we don't see, behind the curtains. It's the aspects we try to hide because we are ashamed of what is happening. It's then important to show this reality that exists behind the curtains, as a means not to forget what is happening.
In this case, it was interesting to use the Lomo’Instant Wide as it gives a raw perspective on something that is raw initially, and it makes it even stronger I think.
Do you think that the instant aspect of this camera allowed you to have another approach to your subjects?
I believe so, when I take out this instant camera, people seem to be hallucinating, they see this huge object and ask what it is. I then proceed to the explanations, take a photo of them and give them the shot. Then I speak with them a bit and generally, they allow me to take more photos. It's really cool, they let themselves go. It's then possible to start new conversations, show them my work and leave a bit of myself when I leave.
What functionality of this camera did you use the most for these shots?
I did not have the time to test out everything, so I stayed on simple basics ! But I must admit the double exposure function is really cool.
Do you have ideas for photography projects to come?
I always have loads of ideas for photography, sometimes it isn't easy to produce them as I don't always have the means. As I said before, I am not in the Middle-East, as of mid-January. I am working on personal documentary projects, and orders for magazines. I try to work on the youth, its importance, the underground music scene of that region. I am also trying to approach it from a more social angle by focusing on refugee camps. I have planned to travel a bit longer as I'd like to give a more intimate aspect to these photos. I really want people to feel as if they are in the life of these people, by viewing my photos.