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A Poor Paradise, Episode 4 of French-American Mural Art

A Poor Paradise, Episode 4 of French-American Mural Art
FAMA (French-American Mural Art) in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. Left: mural by Difuz. Right: mural by La Morena. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.

During the inauguration of the French-American Mural Art (FAMA) event in Marseille, France, on November 9, 2021, we admired the mural they recently completed in the Plan d’Aou neighborhood, coined the poor paradise by French artist Jean-Luc Brisson. 

October 25 – November 10, 2021—The city of Marseille hosted the 4th edition of the FAMA event launched by the United States of America Embassy and the urban art association Hypermur earlier this year. 

The ongoing event represents a series of monumental street art installations with its first episodes in Besançon, Paris and Niort, and has now come to the Plan d’Aou neighborhood in the 15th district of Marseille. 

Arizona-born artist La Morena joined Paris-born artist Difuz to create a mural on two large walls of a residency building on rue des Malouins. The partnership between Difuz, with Belgian and Uruguayan origins, and La Morena with Apache and Chicana origins brought to life a neighborhood that saw major renovation begin only fifteen years ago

Last year, the neighborhood received two hectares of new developments—where only last week, La Morena could be found playing soccer with local kids at the new outdoor stadium. Watch a video of the artist at play here.

Plan d’Aou still suffers from a bad reputation, like the majority of the 15th district known for selling drugs and letting off gunshots in the street; the reputation points indirectly, if not directly, at the history of the district. Still, those who live in the neighborhood of Plan d’Aou have often considered it a poor paradise. In fact, in 2013, the Marseille-Provence association contacted French artist Jean-Luc Brisson to participate in a “creative neighborhood” in Plan d’Aou. The artist later published a book entitled Le paradis, quelques observations sur le plan d’Aou.

American artist La Morena (in hat, to the left) watches the sunset. FAMA (French-American Mural Art) in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.
American artist La Morena watches the sunset. FAMA (French-American Mural Art) in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.
La Morena watches the sunset. FAMA (French-American Mural Art) in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.

Today, we observe the area through the eyes of visitors who have never seen it before its fifteen-year and ongoing evolution. Upon arrival, we found La Morena, a self-taught nationally known muralist and painter, admiring the sunset from a lookout corner of the neighborhood. It seems she has found the beauty in this “poor paradise” as well.

As an advocate on issues regarding immigration, community, feminism and spirituality, it was particularly special to discover La Morena in this neighborhood—whose new playground is the best we’ve seen yet, but whose troubles are not yet entirely underground as a green car in the parking lot reminds us.

Car in the parking lot in front of the residece building in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.

The murals of both Difuz and La Morena bring to light the inner child; as both artists have been on the path of self-discovery where the roots of their origins play a major role in who they are and what they hold dear. In fact, the individuals featured in their work could be said to resemble the artists when they were children. It is rather fitting that these murals are across from a large playground where children can view them.

The Plan d’Aou neighborhood sits high up on a hill behind a large shopping center called Grand Littoral, where it not only has incredible views of the Mediterranean sea but appears rather secluded, sort of set apart from the rest of the area, acting as a safe haven for residents despite the occasional (let’s hope) bad occurrences. It’s easy to agree upon the reference to paradise.

FAMA (French-American Mural Art) in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. Left: mural by Difuz. Right: mural by La Morena. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.
Mural by Difuz. FAMA (French-American Mural Art) in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.
Mural by La Morena. FAMA (French-American Mural Art) in Marseille. Photo taken during the inauguration on November 9, 2021. ©ArchiExpo e-Magazine.
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