Laurent Kronental: Souvenir d'un Futur

A parallel world mixing past and future

by Valentina Ieva
14 Love 4285 Visits

With Souvenir d'un Futur Laurent Kronental documents the life of senior citizens living in the “Grands Ensembles” (large housing projects) around Paris.

Joseph, 88, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014


For the most part erected between the 1950s and the 1980s to address the housing crisis, urban migration and the inflow of foreign migrants while meeting modern comfort needs, these large estates are today often stigmatized by the media and marginalized by public opinion.

José, 89, Les Damiers, Courbevoie, 2012

Josette, 90, Vision 80, Esplanade de La Défense, 2013

Le Pavé Neuf, Noisy-le-Grand, 2015


In sharp contrast with these cliché views, and fascinated by these projects’ ambitious and dated modernistic features, Laurent Kronental was moved by the living conditions of these urban veterans who have aged there, and who, he feels, are the memory of the locus.

Jean, 89, Puteaux-La Défense, 2011

Denise, 81, Cité Spinoza, Ivry-sur-Seine, 2015


Souvenir d'un Futur is the result of four years of visits and exchanges. In this series, Laurent Kronental wanted to create the atmosphere of a parallel world mixing past and future while consciously conveying the impression of towns that would be emptied of their residents. In this magnificent and ghostly world, the structures of our cities would be titanic, gobble the human, the product of our fears and hopes for an organization of the city.

Roland, 85, Les Arcades du Lac, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, 2015


He felt a need to examine their living conditions and shed light over a sometimes-neglected generation. Exposing these unsung and underestimated suburban areas is a means to reveal the poetry of aging environments slowly vanishing, and with them, the memory of modernist utopia.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014


His photographs are tinted with melancholic, yet brave disenchantment. The majestic mass of the futuristic vessels seems to drift across an ocean of concrete. But the presence of old people, which might seem unexpected in such settings, paradoxically hints at a possible hope, as if past illusions were not all dead yet. Using a 4x5” analog camera, the artist highlights the architectural geometry without stamping out the details.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014

Paulette, 83, Les Damiers, Courbevoie, 2015


Self-taught photographer, Laurent Kronental discovers photography in China during a stay of several months in Beijing. He is captivated by the big metropolises there and by the variety of their architectures, their inhabitants, the way they tame the space and their personal stories. He pushes forward another look on often underestimated suburban areas whose walls seem slowly get older and carry with them the memory of a modernist utopia.


Cover image: Jacques, 82, Le Viaduc et les Arcades du Lac, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, 2015


All images courtesy of Laurent Kronental

    • Valentina Ieva

      Valentina Ieva


      Bari / Italy

      Laureata in Ingegneria edile-architettura, giornalista per professione, web writer per diletto. Amante di architettura, design, fotografia e libri di carta. Dipendente dai social, Instagram e InstaStories su tutti. Affamata di vita, viaggi e storie da scoprire. Qualunque forma d'arte mi affascina da sempre e non posso pensare una vita senza: emozioni forti, immaginazione, buona musica, cucina pugliese, sole e gatti. Per dirla con le parole di Battiato, non potrei vivere senza: ‘un soffio al)