1931, PANTIN : the Chamber of Commerce and Industry opens the MAGASINS GENERAUX building.
20,000 square meters of concrete featuring 1,4 km of gangways right next to the Ourcq Canal where custom-free next goods now begin to arrive and depart.
In 1958, over 120 employees are working at the Magasins.
But the 60s and 70s, and the changes in the agricultural food industries take their toll on the activities at the building, and at the start of 2000, the Magasins Generaux closes its doors.
The abandoned building becomes a playground for the local graffiti artists.
Already brimming over with history, the walls now have something new to say, and the plain grey of concrete gives way to a variety of colours.
The stylistic blending of the existing architecture with graffiti created on the building adds a touch of notoriety to this exceptional location.
Today, the sound of aerosol sprays is obscured by that pneumatic drills. Advertising agency BETC will be moving in as of 2016.
But before opening a new page in the life of the building, we had to make sure we were also preserving its past with www.graffitigeneral.com
With this end in view, each square metre of the Magasins was photographed in full and translated into a virtual 3D model, thereby conserving the works inside and out and giving one and all a chance to relive the glory days of the building’s street art era.
C’est dans cette démarche que les Magasins Généraux ont été entièrement photographiés et modélisés pour conserver les œuvres de cette bâtisse iconique et permettre à tous de revivre jusque dans les moindres détails l’époque bariolée du Magasin devenu Monument.
« This painting came about during a period when Dem189 and I were taking every opportunity that presented itself to combine my representational art with his highly organic lettering. Here, the idea was for the letters to emerge from the kid’s head as though they were actually a part of him, or maybe a projection of his imagination. I like it when the expressions on faces aren’t immediately apparent, because that allows people to project themselves into the work and imagine what happens next. Here, the boy is crouching and could well be about to stand up … maybe to go do some painting. I only had two hours for creating this piece, following which I spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around the building, which truly is sublime. »
« I don’t generally put my insects in places where tags or graffiti by other artists are already present – but here, I wanted to incorporate it into this painting by Lek, whom I didn’t know, because his arrows seemed to me to be in the same spirit. The picture is traced directly, using only two colours, and I also found that the arrows had a botanical quality that was highly compatible with my work. Like plants invading the walls of an abandoned building, with my insects also colonising the same spot »
Portal by Lek:
“We’d been wanting to paint inside the buildings in Pantin for a while, but at that point they weren’t yet totally disused. Little by little the surveillance dwindled, and we visited the sites. When we first scouted them out, we were struck right away by the gangways linking the two buildings. It’s very rare to find that configuration, and although this doorway only constitutes one end of my painting, which covered a large portion of the façade, right away I found it interesting to have a “corridor” leading to my work and allowing people to see it in a new and original manner.”
Sean Hart's biography:
Born in France in 1981, Sean Hart has been voluntarily homeless for the past 3 years: a street artist who travels and works without authorisation – but also without concealing his name or his face – in towns throughout the world. He sees his work as a set of poetic messages encompassing various different series of work and covering a wide range of different media: painting, photography, video, sculpture, installation, performance art and short films. Each work represents fragmented pages of an intimate diary – a travel journal formulated as a cocktail of challenging poetic images..
« I’ve always loved the atmosphere of disused spaces, and enjoyed exploring them. Strolling, discovering a new location … I was pleased with this piece because it’s quite rare to find this kind of industrial goods lift door – very nice. When I saw it, I said to myself, “Even if I don’t have much time (I do most of my graffiti sessions during my lunch break), I’m still going to do something on that – it’s just too tempting.” I’ve never been interested in doing neat, tidy paintings that involve working on fine detail. I’m very fond of drips and leakage – and here, this accentuated the dirtiness of the location. »
Conservation des oeuvres des Magasins Généraux de Pantin — BETC Digital pour Graffiti General
Regroupement & Textes — Karim Boukercha, auteur de "Descente Interdite"