Built in 1843 as one of the outposts of the ‘enceinte de Thiers’ fortifications that were supposed to protect Paris but never did, the Fort d’Aubervilliers has long been a mysterious space in the city’s northeastern suburbs. Originally a military base, it has since been a somewhat dubious laboratory and most recently a vehicle scrap yard. With the latest occupiers freshly abandoning the site, it has finally opened a window of opportunity for public visits before the fort is once again transformed to serve another purpose. This occasion has been grabbed by local authorities who invited the Art en Ville association to run a two-month long In Situ festival bringing together 40 urban artists from across the world. The result is a huge splash of colour in this semi-abandoned site, and an event that should not be missed.
Somewhat strangely for a defensive structure, the Fort d’Aubervilliers is not very easy to spot as you approach. The choice of position was strategic – on one of the main routes towards Belgium and Germany – but ironically the only real military use it saw was as a base for the invading Prussian and German armies it was supposed to defend against. Today it is overlooked by a small copse of neighbouring tower blocks, and is slowly being overrun by vegetation.
There are still a number of indistinct buildings on the site, their supports rusting and their roofs collapsing, but these will shortly be pulled to the ground. Before they go though, they are experiencing one final swansong – as supports and canvases for a collective of artists.
Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays until July 14, 2pm-7:30pm, M° Fort d’Aubervilliers