Catalog of the Mois de la Photo à Paris 2008, Actes Sud/Maison Européenne de la Photographie

It is usually place names that defines the photographic series by Benoit Grimbert. Or as he prefers here, it could be the simple name of a road : A406, North Circular Road, because it plays an explicit function of territorial identification, that of the northern outskirts of London. Here, the road serves as a guideline, appearing and disappearing indiscriminately, to let the city emerge at its margin.
Also known for most of its length as the «North Circular Road», the A406 constitutes the northern section of London’s second ring road (Ringway 2). As the principal artery linking the east and west of Greater London, this road follows a path existing since the 1920s and has transformed itself little by little (mostly in the eastern and northern sections) into a quasi-highway. An ambitious urban progamme established in the late 1960s was partially abandoned and contributed in creating what is even today a route of a highly incongruous quality.
Correlatively, the great variety of urban environments (industrial and commercial zones, community garden plots, residential neighbourhoods of contrasting social levels) along the A406 clearly qualifies it as a ring road, similar to those one finds encircling many contemporary metropolises. Emblematic of the generic city and of the globalization of urban forms and their ongoing transformation, this road represents no less than both a territorial and cultural identity. This photographic project is situated in the internal between these two poles, representing simultaneously a unique yet universal object.
This series was created during five separate trips to England, from November 2006 through March 2007. Travelled and photographed along its length essentially on foot, the A406 is presented here in the form of a sequence departing in a East-West geographical orientation.