Life in the Paris Suburbs, by Monsieur Bonheur

Whether we want to forget it, or cherish the memories, our childhood is with us all our lives. For Marvin Bonheur, the setting of his childhood influences his aesthetic as an artist… through his film photos, he depicts a 93 little shown, but which is much more akin to reality than the images relayed by the media.

Hi Marvin, can you introduce yourself briefly?

Hi! I’m Marvin BONHEUR a 27-year-old photographer, I grew up in the 93 [93 is the number assigned to Seine-Saint-Denis, a French department located in the northeast of the Paris conurbation] and today I live in Paris.

Life in the Paris Suburbs, by Monsieur Bonheur
©Monsieur Bonheur

What is your first memory related to photography?

The oldest would be for me when I would look at the pictures printed in the family album, my love of film was born there.

“[…] the stereotypical comments about the youth of the 93 drove me crazy.”

Your first 93 series started in 2012, if I’m not mistaken. What was the process for building this project?

In reality 2012, that’s when I started taking pictures, Alzheimer was born in 2014. It all starts with my identity crisis when I arrive in the 17th arrondissement where I live. The nostalgia for home “AULNAY” sharing, fraternity, love and indifference… I didn’t really experience it in Paris, especially since the stereotypical comments about the youth of the 93 drove me crazy. I needed to act so it inspired me for Alzheimer’s, the rest was logical.

Life in the Paris Suburbs, by Monsieur Bonheur
©Monsieur Bonheur

The aesthetics of the suburbs have long been underestimated. However, there are many things to photograph, from architecture to people’s lives. What aspect of these cities of 93 in which you grew up inspires you the most?

Everything inspires me. In fact, it is the energy of everyday life, both our parents who have done so much for us, and my friends. It is the inner and outer beauty of many of the people I grew up with.

“[…] the 93 will always be my first inspiration. “

But it is also of course the resentment I have towards the media, to have portrayed us in such a degrading way, showing only a minority. Doing a little justice and giving us back our dignity is what inspires me.
Then we have to admit that the “raw” is charming and in our region it’s not what’s missing.

Life in the Paris Suburbs, by Monsieur Bonheur
©Monsieur Bonheur

Is your work on the suburbs over? Or is it a lifetime work?

No, it is not finished it is a trilogy of life: The past (Alzheimer), the present (Therapy) and the Future (Renaissance), which I still continue. Beyond the visual, my work is for social purposes. For me, photographing NYC is like working on my 93 because I will always claim where I come from and the 93 will always be my first inspiration. Geographically I don’t know, I’m very interested in the world.

“The suburbs are beautiful […]”

Life in the Paris Suburbs, by Monsieur Bonheur
©Monsieur Bonheur

What do you want to communicate through your work?

Above all, to change the preconceived ideas about 93, to pay tribute to my own. But also to give strength to the next generations of these neighborhoods, to create hope. The suburbs are beautiful, its inhabitants are beautiful, the future is ours.

“Looking at a picture of Mr. Happiness is like seeing with my eyes.”

Life in the Paris Suburbs, by Monsieur Bonheur
©Monsieur Bonheur

You work mostly with film. What does this bring to your photography practice?

Yes, at first it was the format and aesthetics of the camera that attracted me, and at the first developments, the rendering. The grain and pastel colors are exactly the same as my vision of the neighborhoods.
Looking at a picture of Mr. Happiness is like seeing with my eyes. It’s a contrast between brutality and sweetness.

“True happiness is not success, it’s doing what you love.”

Life in the Paris Suburbs, by Monsieur Bonheur
©Monsieur Bonheur

What advice would you give to a novice photographer?

I am self-taught. My only advice is to go to the limit in your projects and believe in yourself, the rest will follow sooner or later. True happiness is not success, it’s doing what you love.

Do you have any ongoing projects you can tell us about?

I am preparing a big trip, a photo book on my trilogy, a documentary and big collaborations… to be continued.

You can see more of Monsieur Bonheur’s work on his website, and follow him on Instagram.