Like Bollaert in Lens, the “Cauldron” in Saint-Etienne, or the Velodrome in Marseille, the Bauer Stadium is emblematic of French working-class soccer. Legendary for the atmosphere that reigns on, and even more so around, the pitch on match days: the fans with their tireless chanting and the locals sporting green-and-white jerseys cheering from the windows and balconies of Planète Z, the housing project that is an extension of the stands. You must experience Bauer to understand it. Experience is precisely what the photographer Jeanne Frank has attempted to convey: until mid-July, her work offers a glimpse into the fervor of soccer diehards at the Grange-aux-Belles cultural center in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. “I like telling stories, and I use my camera to do that. I find soccer seen from this angle, through the passion of the local supporters, no bells and whistles, beautiful,” explains the artist. She is particularly fond of Arnaud Brunet’s photographic work: “He manages to capture unusual moments in banal scenes and to bring out a lot of humor in his photos.”
A member of the Divergence collective and a resident at Mains d’Œuvres, a site dedicated to contemporary creation just a ball’s throw away from the Auvergne stadium, the young woman bought a ticket for one of the Red Star F.C. games in 2017. As she mixed with the excited crowd, banners and flags flying overhead, she became aware of the voices coming from Planète Z, the famous pyramid-like housing project that overlooks the field. Built in the 1970s in the heart of Saint-Ouen, a northern banlieue of Paris, this strange, ship-like structure stands out not only for its vintage feel but also for the soccer mania that has spread from floor to floor. Some residents of Planète Z have rooted for Red Star for generations. Frank’s curiosity was piqued after her first match, just a few days later she got pulled into a parallel universe. The photographer finally knocked on the right door and managed to get closer to Red Star and their front-row fans and take their portraits. Along with the supporters from the so-called Tribune Rino della Negra, these residents are the beating heart of Red Star.
“Bauer is my home”
Sylvie, one of the fans-in-residence Frank met at Planète Z, immediately spots her portrait among the photos on display. You can see the pride in her eyes. “My windows overlook the field. Bauer is my home,” says the fifty-year-old at the opening of the exhibition. “My grandfather was also a Red Star fan; he had talked to me about it when I was very young and it was he who introduced me to soccer.” Looking at these intimate photos, the viewer is moved from laughter to tears: the faces of the fans transmit the emotion at home victories or defeats. “Bauer is more than a stadium and much more than soccer. It’s not a relic but a bastion of vibrant ideas defended in its stands, including Planète Z. The photos show this spirit, this unmistakable flavor,” points out Antoine, a Red Star fan.
Jeanne Frank’s photographs speak for themselves. Like these young people dribbling on the concrete rooftop, the mother and daughter riveted in the frame of their window, or these fans joining the players on the pitch to celebrate the club’s rise to the second division… This is a beautiful tribute to the stadium, which has been undergoing major renovations for several months, but also to Red Star, 100% of whose shares were bought last May by the American investment fund 777 Partners. “It’s a construction site! I don’t need an alarm clock in the morning,” says Sylvie, who will not be able to attend matches for several more weeks, but who has relived some of her Bauer spirit through Jeanne Frank’s photographs.
“PLANÈTE Z”, Jeanne Frank exhibited at the center Paris Anim’ La grange aux Belles, 6 rue Boy Zelenski, Paris 10e, from Tuesday June 21 to Friday July 15.