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A Parisian Slice of Life in L.A.

Photography exhibit co-sponsored by USC College’s Francophone Resource Center opens at L.A. Public Library March 1.

A Parisian Slice of Life in L.A.

Starting in March, rarely seen images of the City of Light come to the City of Angels thanks to a partnership of the USC Francophone Resource Center, the Los Angeles Public Library, Otis College of Art and Design and Paris’ Musée Carnavalet.

Works of art from the Musée Carnavalet, the most comprehensive archive of Parisian history, will be on display at the L.A. Central Library’s Getty Gallery in the new exhibit “Beyond the Iconic: Contemporary Photographs of Paris.”

The exhibition runs until June 1 and is curated by Béatrice Mousli Bennett, director of USC College’s Francophone Resource Center, Guy Bennett of Otis College and Catherine Tambrun, curator of the Musée Carnavalet.

“This is another vision of Paris, a different vision that is more quotidian and true to life,” said Mousli Bennett, a lecturer in the College’s French and Italian department. “The photographers in this exhibition — many of them prominent in the art world — defy the clichés associated with the city.”

An opening reception was held Feb. 28 in the Getty Gallery. A full-color catalog of the exhibition is available from Angel City Press.

This is the first time these images have traveled outside of France — in fact, most of them have never been displayed. The diversity of the exhibit’s 140 photographs, taken between 1971 and 2003, reaches beyond the familiar images of Paris to give a deeper sense of day-to-day life in the metropolis.

“Whatever their attitude toward the past, it is certain that both Paris and Los Angeles look to the future,” Bennett wrote in the introduction to the catalog. “So commodified have their respective identities become that the landmarks invariably used to invoke them — the Eiffel Tower and Hollywood Sign — function as virtual trademarks for their host cities ...”

“This exhibition will look beyond that iconography through the work of 24 internationally acclaimed contemporary photographers,” said Gloria Gerace, director of exhibitions for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. “and might foster a separate dialogue about our own photographic relationship with Los Angeles.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public during library hours. It is presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Public Library. The James Irvine Foundation and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts provided funding. Support was also provided by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.

Housed in USC’s Leavey Library, the USC Francophone Resource Center is a joint project of the French Embassy to the U.S. and the College. Part of a French government initiative to promote the study of French language and francophone cultures in the United States, it hosts a diverse set of multidisciplinary activities involving distinguished francophone writers, scholars, filmmakers, journalists and scientists.