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Cercle de Lectures - Passwords

In black and white. Photos of all kinds.

18h 30 at 20h
18h 30 at 20h

Free entrance


In french

Corina Ciocârlie and the Cercle Cité introduce a new cycle of encounters devoted to the phenomenon of migration as seen by writers and photographers. 

Every crossing has its protagonists – the passengers – the adjuncts – the smugglers – and their magic formulas – the passwords. Among those who offer their services to migrants to enable them to arrive safe and sound on the other shore, there is this modern-day Charon whose honesty and good intentions remain to be proved. Although the hero's steed in fairy tales is a hundred-percent true and trusty travelling companion, smugglers play a more ambiguous role in the economy of the crossing: apart from the fact that they never fail to demand their due, they often take us for a ride, literally and in every sense. Moreover, the expression "mener quelqu’un en bateau" – to dupe them – as if by chance, gives no indication of a destination, leaving us quite literally, and metaphorically also, in the dark.

Passer, quoi qu’il en coûte” (making it across, whatever it takes) is the title of an essay co-written by George Didi-Huberman and Niki Giannari, on contemporary migrations in general and on the refugees of the Idomeni camp in particular. In response to the questions posed by the Greek film-maker – "How does a person leave? Why does a person leave? Toward what destination?" – the French philosopher responds with an anaphora which suggests the ceaselessly recommenced movement of waves, the ebb and flow of our great expectations and our lost illusions: "Leaving. Leaving whatever the cost. They'd sooner die than not leave. Leaving in order not to die in this godforsaken land and in its civil war. (…) And if necessary in order to leave, paying a smuggler, a brigand: becoming an outlaw. Making this decision, albeit with fear in their hearts, albeit with terrible fear for their lives, for those of their children. Whatever the case: leaving in order to live."

We slip our moorings, whatever the cost. We can't wait to get to the other side of the river, or the sea, or the night, whatever the exorbitant cost paid for the crossing. Someone – who may take the form of a White Rabbit brandishing a pocket watch, or an unscrupulous smuggler disguised as a good Samaritan – sold us a good yarn, strewn with pitfalls but with a happy end, and we can't wait to take up the challenge, as we take up a gauntlet when challenged to a duel. The start of the journey, the how and why of the adventures in the so-called Wonderland is, precisely, an offer we can't refuse. Which we don't refuse, because we always prefer to regret what we have done, not what we have not done. Happy the man who, like Ulysses, and like Alice, has made a fine journey…

Register here

In accordance with the health instructions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, this lecture will not take place at Auditorium Cité but will be held online, via Zoom. To guarantee a good interaction with the public, the number of participants is limited to 25 people.

Cercle Cité, in collaboration with Corina Ciocârlie

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