Social sci-fi: Laurent Kronental presents photographic memories of the future

Social sci-fi: Laurent Kronental presents photographic memories of the future

Laurent Kronental is a magician of the camera lens, conjuring up images of a dystopian world in which colossal space-ship like buildings are inhabited entirely by the elderly. 

It sounds like the latest science fiction offering from Steven Spielberg, but this is the French photographer’s Souvenir d’un Futur (’Memory of a Future’) series. The collection won Kronental the esteemed accolade of Laureate of ’La Bourse du Talent’ for Landscape / Architecture 2015 and is currently being exhibited, along with work from other contributors, at the Bibliotheque François-Mitterrand.

Recorded over four years and charting a dozen different grands ensembles, this series transports the viewer around the suburbs of contemporary Paris, and the housing estates built after the Second World War to cater for the burgeoning number of migrants flocking to the capital city from both the French countryside and abroad.

The only figures to feature in the photos are those of the buildings’ elderly inhabitants, many of whom have played out their whole lives within these edifices. There is a sense that these buildings, once filled with human presence, now house more memories than occupants. 

The structures seem disproportionately vast when scaled against a single human figure, giving them an otherworldly feel. They dominate the city’s peripheral skyline and, up until now, have been viewed with disdain by the Parisian population and allowed to fall into disrepair. 

The theme of neglect permeates the imagery, with both the architectural and human subject matter sitting on the outskirts of mainstream society. Kronental leaves us with the haunting realisation that we, like his elderly protagonists, belong to ‘a younger generation that did not see itself age’.

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