"In a Strange Land (Nous som Charlie)"
TITLE - "In a Strange Land (Nous som Charlie)"
WHERE - Paris, France (2015)
The day after Islamic terrorists attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, Parisians everywhere were posting signs saying "Nous som Charlie" (we are all Charlie). The city's Arab Centre moved quickly to do likewise in a giant display on its courtyard facade facing this cone-shaped structure, designed to resemble an oversized bedouin tent. Except for me, the Centre's plaza was eerily deserted that morning after the attack, and the middle-eastern-looking young men who put up the new sign viewed the photographer warily, as the long barrel of my black camera swung into place to document them. Even here, in this moment of attempted solidarity, the space we shared filled quickly with suspicion. I wanted to flash them some affirming sign, some show of sympathy without condescension whose interpretation could not be misinterpreted. But I could think of none, and hesitated.