Charlie Hebdo Headquarters-Paris-Editorial Meeting-Steven Wassenaar-018

Paris-based photojournalist Steven Wassenaar, a contributor to Untapped Cities who previously showed us life amidst war on the border of Syria and Lebanon, shared with us this photo series he took three years ago at an editorial meeting in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine attacked on the morning of January 7th, 2015. When we saw these images Wednesday afternoon, it brought to life the individual tragedies that now form the raison d’etre for the solidarity expressed on the global stage. It seemed only fitting a few hours later to see New Yorkers and French expatriates put faces to the tragedy in a gathering in Union Square on Wednesday night. Photographs of the eyes of the victims, printed in a style reminiscent of French artist JR’s “Women are Heroes” in the Providência favela of Rio de Janeiro, were held up. “Je Suis Charlie” signs and chants of “We are Charlie” echoed.

Je Suis Charlie-Charlie Hebdo-2014- Union Square-NYC-Yana Bannikova‎Photo by Yana Bannikova

Maybe this expression has prominence because the victims were public figures, or because the messages of Charlie Hebdo were consumed by a collective nation. But it gives us pause as journalists. How can we strive to make reporting of such tragedies more than just numbers?

At Untapped Cities, a good percentage of our team is from France–either living there or working here in the United States, including illustrator David Cessac who passed in 2014. We are Charlie too, and we hope this photo series from Steven Wassenaar inside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo can highlight even more, the people lost yesterday. Incredibly, Charlie Hebdo will release its next issue on schedule, with an increased print run of 1 million copies next Wednesday.


Assassin's Creed-Paris-French Revolution-Damien Hypolite-Bastille-Notre Dame-9

It’s often said (and most often by Parisians it seems) that Paris is its own museum, frozen in time. For preservation and cultural memory, this is a wonderful thing–though the architecture can make the city feel less progressive at times. One thing this level of preservation does assist–before and after photography. The latest Assassin’s Creed video game takes place in Paris, but the Paris of the French Revolution when heads were being guillotined and there were barricades in the streets. Damien Hypolite, the chef de projet infographie at Sciences et Avenir, matched up the images from the game to present day. Here’s are the images of the famous landmarks side-by-side:


Cemetery Cities-Jardin del Humaya Cemetery, Cuilacan, Sinaloa Mexico Cartel-2Jardin del Humaya Cemetery, Cuilacan, Sinaloa Mexico

Conspicuous wealth isn’t limited to life on earth, it seems. There are many amazing examples of architectural masterpieces built for the afterlife. While much of the focus is often on the tributes to single individuals–Lenin, Sun Yat Sen–or creepy crypts full of skulls and bones, we’d like to highlight the cemetery cities we’ve been coming across recently. From a distance, some of these may look simply like a suburban residential neighborhood. Look closer, and you’ll realize they’re cities of the dead.


Moving Cities-Paris-France-Dance-Eiffel Tower-Untapped Cities-Global

Film director Jevan Chowdhury fell in love with what he calls “cine-dance” in 2010. That year, he directed a short film for an art project commissioned by the dance company East London Dance, in conjunction with West Stratford City: a shopping center in the East London town of Stratford. The film, Dancing Voices, is a five-and-a-half-minute exploration into the many cultures, styles and people that make up the ELD. The dancers perform in public spaces around London, these places include: the Eastbury Manor House in Barking and Dagenham; the Trinity Buoy Wharf in Tower Hamlets; and The View Tube near Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Voices was released in 2011 and in the three years since, Chowdhury has been busy directing and editing a series of short films that once again feature dance prominently in his vision.  (more…)

There’s a lovely video spreading around the internet called Paris / New York, so well done you don’t realize it’s an ad for British Airways until the very end. Of course, it takes on a city duality comparison already heavily explored from Varham Muratyan’s influential illustrated series Paris v. New York: A Tally of Two Cities, to our own Parisians v. New Yorkers live drawing event at the French Embassy with illustrator David Cessac. Time lapse videos in Paris are also popular fare–with Luke Shepard’s groundbreaking one, Le Flâneur, a few years back. But, who doesn’t love a video of Paris and New York City all together? So, here are three! But first, some striking screen shots of the video, via Fubiz.


Hehe-Railroad-Vehicle-Deisgn-Untapped Cities-NYCThe Métronome (Image via Hehe)

Before The High Line became “The High Line” it was an abandoned railroad track covered in vines and graffiti. It has become one of the most visited and welcome additions to NYC since it first opened. However, some of us do miss the graffiti the city washed away to keep the eyes of tourists free and innocent. Sure, if you look really closely, you can see an old COST and REVS roller, but if  you want to see anything done this decade, all you will get is art that looks like weird birdhouses.

For us who follow the art of the streets, some of NYC’ most creative graffiti pieces are on many of the cities abandoned and active railroad tracks. To venture into these tracks to see what these Picasso’s of the streets have created does come with consequences: the threat of being arrested, getting into a losing fight with a train, or worse, abducted by mole people (just kidding, maybe). So how can a family of four see what graffiti artists do under risk of being incarcerated?

Well thanks to the guys over at Pop-Up City, we may just have the answer for you. Hehe, a French urban design studio is working on a series of vehicles designed to transport urban explorers scared of the risks of urban exploration. Hehe’s goal is to open up these hidden urban museums, but to still keep the seclusion of this hidden world inside major cities. (more…)