With support of a TransAtlantic Mobility Grant offered by both the French and American Embassies, six students from two prestigious schools, one in Paris and one in New York City, worked together as part of an exchange program in photography this past summer. The theme of the project is immigration. With the help of Dysturb Media, a non-profit specializing in media production and education,  the work will be exhibited in several public locations this fall in the two host cities.

The project is titled “PHOTOBRIDGE: Paris and New York.” It is the brainchild of the photo programs and international relations offices at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in New York City and ENS Louis-Lumière in Paris, public institutions in journalism and the visual arts and sound.

With the support of photo faculty at both the schools, the six master’s degree students selected for the program, three from each school, met remotely last spring to decide on a topic and plan a course of action. Immigration was quickly selected as the theme because of the topic’s  potential to deliver powerful human stories that serve to bridge these two great cities. What is the same about the immigrant experience? What is different? Students then spent 10 days working collaboratively to produce their photo projects in Paris and then in New York City.

The resulting photo essays explore the variety of paths individuals and families travel as they move from their country of origin and how they maintain emotional connection with home. Some are artists, some students. Some asylum seekers and some second- or third-generation immigrants assimilated into the community and culture of their new home.

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and ENS Louis-Lumière intend this to be the first year of a program that will be fully integrated into the curriculum of both institutions.

Below are the names of the six student participants  and a brief description of their individual projects:

Christian Colón (Newmark) –  Art and street art in particular is a universal language. Both New York City and Paris have robust street art communities. Different cultures bring unique styles to the form. Street art and the immigrants and children of immigrants that produce much of it represent the social ideas of groups that sometimes have few other means of expression.

Rida Choubai (ENS Louis-Lumière)During the early part of the last century, Italians immigrated to NYC and the United States by the millions. Two or three generations later, Italian culture has been largely integrated into American culture. How do second and third generation immigrant families celebrate their heritage? Food is a huge part of that. Recipes from the old country used at family restaurants may change gradually over time, but the ingredients and ritual of preparation connect one generation to the next.

Hannah-Kathryn Valles (Newmark) New York City and Paris are two of the world’s premiere centers of high fashion. Designers and tailors from across Africa come to these two cities to break into the business. Working collaboratively at this co-op in Paris, many try to integrate colors, fabrics and other design accents from their homes into the work they produce in America and Europe.

Corinna Kranig (ENS Louis-Lumière)  Each year, hundreds of thousands of exchange students from around the globe arrive in Paris or New York to study. Some leave home because better education is available in Paris or New York. Some leave home because their chosen field of study is prohibited at home. Most live in dormitories or apartments while studying abroad. How do these students retain a connection to home while away? How do they decorate their personal space and what objects from home do they most cherish?

Zakiyyah Woods (Newmark)  – For many dancers, the art form gives expression to their cultural identity. Performers from around the world come to Paris and New York City to advance their careers. Many join street dance troupes to stay active, connect with a broader community and, sometimes, to fight loneliness and even depression that can accompany living and working far from home. This project explores the relationships between dancers, the joy and freedom that is dance and the challenges of their chosen careers.

Antoine Bertron (ENS Louis-Lumière) – Immigrants seeking asylum who arrive in Paris or New York with few or no resources face many challenges. One of them is staying connected with family and friends back home if mobile phones are not readily available. With a handmade film camera and scanner, this project enlists the subject in the creation of a postcard that can be mailed back to the country of origin. The photos are taken, the  film processed, scanned and printed postcard-style on the spot. The subjects in the image then write a note on the card and the card is immediately dropped in a mailbox.