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Performing Marginal Space: Film, Topology and the Petite Ceinture in Paris
Ulf Strohmayer (text) & Jipé Corre (photography)

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la paranthèse urbaine : circle

travail photographique sur La Petite ceinture, voie de chemin de fer désaffectée courant autour de Paris.

The above short stop-motion film was produced in 2009 by French photographer Jipé Corre during the course of 2 weeks in May. Technically, the film consists of 2633 mostly black-and-white photographs shot at regular five meter (or 10 step) intervals from a similar, crouching position — all linked at the speed of 8 images per second to form a continuous whole suggestive of a full trajectory around the Ceinture in present-day Paris. The idea behind the film was a simple one: how to capture a linear and mostly unbroken space that was and continues to invite a multitude of uses and users.

Internet Sites

We consulted the sites below during the research that supported the writing of this paper but they have not directly been incorporated into the text. All have been accessed in March 2012 and are listed here in no apparent order.

official site on the nature trail part in the 16th!

Le Figaro story on the 15th (for further developments in the 15th along similar lines, decided in 2006; see: LE NOUVEAU JOURNAL DU 15e - N°55 - mars 2006 - page 3, l'éditorial du Maire)

Promenade sur la Petite Ceinture de Paris (Les-Ours)

Loupiote (photographs by Tristan Savatier)

Photographs by Anthony Hamboussi

Lomography magazine

Les Reportages de Ptitrain (a report on a 1999 exceptional train ride on the Ceinture; a similar later ‘expedition’ is documented here)

Le Blog de Ballandine

paris (im)perfect

Le chemin de fer de la Petite Ceinture

Le blog de Didier, passion des trains et des voyages

La Petite Ceinture, and Walks around Paris

Il est où le petit train?


Que reste-t-il de la Petite Ceinture? (a short film about the Gare de Flandres part in 2010 by Annabelle Azadé. The film traces the legitimised and non-legitimised uses of the abandoned space, from artistic ateliers to social work (=cleaning up the tracks) to the installation of beehives.

There are also numerous images placed on various parts of the Ceinture on google earth; an ‘open group’ furthermore exists on facebook called ‘je me balade sur la petite ceinture’ with interesting photographs, shared stories and quiet an active set of exchanges.

Ulf Strohmayer teaches Geography at the National University of Ireland in Galway, where he is currently Professor and Head of the School of Geography & Archaeology. A native of Germany, he studied and taught in Sweden, France, Pennsylvania and Wales before settling in the West of Ireland. His interests are rooted in social philosophies, historical geographies of modernity and are connected to urban planning, with a particular emphasis on the geographies and histories of the French capital.

Jean-Philippe (Jipé) Corre is an independent photographer based in Paris. He’s a graduate in theory of communication and information and has worked in corporate and press photography in addition to creating aesthetic and critical projects like the one presented here. [website]

Research for this paper was supported by a research leave from NUI Galway and a Directeur d'Etudes Associé grant awarded by the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in the spring of 2012 (both awarded to Ulf Strohmayer). We are grateful to both institutions for the support they have given us.

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