"In Paris, everyone wants to be an actor; no one is resigned to being a spectator."

-Jean Cocteau

It’s late August 2022. I’m in Paris to take photosfor the first time since 2000. This time, no assignments, but rather a(re)discovery. I want to wander around with no preconceptions, remaining opento all possibilities. My hotel is in Saint-Ouen, so logically I begin byexploring this suburb, which I immediately take to for its cultural diversity,lively local markets, varied architecture - in short, its visual richness. Onthe way into Paris, I enter the Flea Market, the largest in the world. It's atrip back in time, with antiques from all eras, the France of yesteryear. ThenI continue on to Paris intramuros, crossing the boulevard where hawkers peddletheir wares.

I continue on foot to Montmartre, then take the bus to the Seine. En route, Iphotograph stores, cafés and street scenes, sometimes through the bus windows.I'm in my element. I smile at passers-by and strike up conversations. For threedays I criss-cross the capital in this way, rarely taking the metro. It's toohot. After my stay, I return home and view the images I've stored on a bigscreen. I begin to notice a thread running through this new project and decideto return to Paris in the autumn.

Friday November 11, I arrive at the Gare de Lyon and walk to my hotel inMontparnasse, located near the maid's room where I lived as a student 35 yearsearlier. On the way, I pass in front of the Grand Mosque, where the faithfularrive in droves for prayer. A guard invites me in. I find myself kneeling inthe great hall listening to the Imam's sermon. First in French, then in Arabic,he talks about how to treat others. "Bemerciful," he intones.

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