THE CRESCENT PROJECT
This project aims to be a deep exploration inside the world of religions in France, having Islam as a horizontal axis to navigate the current French society, its religious multidirectional relationships, and the many faces that compose this complex, but not always accepted, reality. The France of today has been built by long years of racial, political, cultural, and even spiritual métissage. France currently is and has been for more time than it wants to recognize, a place of high diversity, where very different backgrounds have contributed to a particular multilayered but neglected identity. But in the highest levels of sociopolitical thinking, there is a unilateral vision that is trying to prevail. The France of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” is not treating all its sons and daughters with the same care and under the same banner.
As a secular society, France sees religious manifestations as something limited to private spaces, consciously ignoring that many different sectors of the society have an entirely different approach to the expressions of faith and how this profession of faith is often linked to public expressions in daily life without being conflictive or menacing. But those limitations have aimed at some specific parts of the social fabric more than at others. Instead of giving a more open approach to the sensitive topic, some leaders have continuously forced hard measures on long parts of society by taking the most radical (and many times harmful) practices as the only reference.
The name of this project is a reference to the symbols that represent the largest monotheistic religions. Each symbol can be used to represent history, culture, knowledge, spiritual quests, and celebrate diversity, or to create division and hatred amongst people in the name of supposed sacred and invisible superior forces. "The Void" is that place in the middle that is unknown, rarely discussed and underappreciated. It could be a neutral zone or, even better, an area of convergence and respect, but it is instead a place where we throw our fear, intolerance, and ignorance.
Through audiovisual mixed media documentation made of traditional photojournalism, still lifes, interventions of images, portraits, and some other documentary approaches, and with the collaboration in the research from local journalist Karim Baouz, I have put together in a very personal way, lives and stories many times seen as parallel, but that play a very important role in the collective life of the country. It was important to constantly move between the bigger dynamics and the micro-local context to link elements seen as isolated or forced to be kept apart, and understand and contribute to the prevention in communities that are under the hovering shadow of Islamophobia, far-right racist ideologists, religious radicalization, antisemitism, and a wide range of extreme ideas.
This project has been developed with the support of the MAGNUM FOUNDATION - On Religion Program.