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Cities & Cycling

Conversations with the City: visual artist Jade Roche challenges representations of life in Paris

Conversations with the City: visual artist Jade Roche challenges representations of life in Paris

The best cities aren’t simply places where we live and work. They have a soul; a unique feel, smell, and character. Sometimes describing a city is almost like describing a friend who you both treasure and might occasionally argue with – but who always feels like home.

But we can’t claim to understand the nuances of each and every one of our key cities. That’s where our series of stories, guides, and artworks, ‘Conversations with the City’ comes in.

Introducing: Conversations with Paris

‘Conversations with the City’ is a series curated by local creatives across the world. For our Paris edition, we spoke to Jade Roche, a visual artist whose work is rooted in digital transformations of physical items, merging the tangible with the transient.

For her Conversations with Paris exhibition, Roche explores the harsh duality between the touristic expectations of the ‘city of love’ and the reality of life in Paris. Juxtaposing photographs that document the reality of day-to-day life in one of Europe’s biggest cities with the form of a tourist souvenir, Roche exposes their disparity.

Ever heard of ‘Paris syndrome’? It’s a term used to describe the strong culture shock experienced by tourists who have long associated the French capital with its pop-cult representation – which is rose-tinted, to say the least. Using raw visuals from an archive of iPhone photography built up over five years in Paris, Roche creates postcard collages to form new, bittersweet but realistic souvenirs – or ‘memories' – of the capital.

In conversation with Jade Roche

What importance does the city have on your work?

I love documenting, and the city is such a good mix of modern and the old; the historical. The city is sometimes absurd, and that inspires me a lot. But I’m actually most animated when I come and go. I like to keep a balance to take care of my precious relationship with Paris so I don’t feel the harshness that can come with living in a dense city. It’s important to me that I still have this excitement to look, play around, and see what surrounds me with an ingenuous eye.

Your work centers around the digital archive of Paris as captured by your iPhone. What is the conversation you wanted to have with Paris through this concept?

I grew up in the south of France and moved to Paris a few years ago. Both places, although in the same country, are culturally very different. The phone pictures are a spontaneous way of documenting every-day life that isn’t ever the same in another place. Replicating souvenir shop merchandise is my way of sharing this point of view of the city that I myself felt like a tourist in just a few years back, but which is now my home.

What intrigued you about our new series, Conversation with the City?

I like that, just like when I spend time away from the city, I ended up thinking about all the things that make me love Paris. The Conversations with the City series gave me a moment to reflect and question the unique relationship I have with the place I’ve been calling home for seven years – a place that I’m getting to know more every day.

When you think of Paris, what do you think of first?

I’m based in Paris for work and I’m lucky enough to equate Paris with fun. It’s like an ever-changing playground – I'm never bored here.

What does the future of Paris look like to you? And what would you change? If anything, of course…

Less fully car-oriented streets, more light transport infrastructures and access, but also the possibility for people outside of Paris to come in easily with free public transport for everyone. More green space, more benches! Housing for everyone! I loved when cafés, bars, and restaurants expanded their outdoor terraces during the Covid pandemic and would love to see them back.

Want to see Jade Roche's exhibition for yourself? You’re in luck. From the 28th of October, the artworks will be shown at our Store in Paris at 157 Av. de France.

While you’re there, why not test ride our all-new VanMoof S5 & A5 bikes? Book your test ride to secure a time slot.