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Exhibition: Cafébabel, peace and love

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To celebrate the return of springtime, Cafébabel is organising a photo exhibition dedicated to peace bearers across Europe called Tales of the afterwar. It’s a project that inspired every member of our newsroom and that pushes our generation to start asking questions. 

“What is war?” In asking that question to a 20-year-old, you run the risk of scaring them off, or – at the very least ­– getting an astonished look. But not so long ago, the question was worth asking. In 2015, shortly after the Paris attacks, the former French president François Hollande gave a speech and referred to an “act of war”.

We all remember that moment very well. During editorial meetings, at dinner, after-work drinks, we debated the subject for a long time. But what was the million-euro question? “What does war mean to a generation that’s only known peace?” We started getting headaches: can we, as European millennials, really say that we’re “at war”? It’s as hard as when someone, clearly very courageous, tells you to “put yourself in the shoes” of people suffering from conflict.

Then one day, as it happens from time to time, a journalist came to the newsroom to pitch her idea. Bursting with energy, she explained that she was thinking about doing a series of features on post-war Europe. The project actually focuses more on “peace bearers”, people who have contributed to social cohesion post-conflict, on the premise that the Old Continent too often relies on an archaic idea that peace lasts forever. According to her, that premise is dangerous. Worse: it’s wrong. To prove her point, she counts the European countries that have recently felt war or armed conflict on her fingers: the Northern Ireland conflict that lasted until 1998, the Yugoslav Wars until 2001, the 2008 War in South Ossetia and the tensions that still divide Cyprus today.

She had prepared everything. Alizée Gau, the journalist in question, was going to visit each of these regions post-war and speak to people who have set up peace projects in an effort to engrain the recent histories in our memories. She even had a name for her project: “Tales of the afterwar”. Alizée’s project really spoke to us. In a time where Europe has become more and more polarised, has seen a rise in terrorist attacks and an alarming surge in nationalism, it would benefit us all to restore our faith in co-existence and exchange – values that have always been close to our magazine. So it was a done deal.

Alizée set off on her journey for several months. Throughout her time abroad, she met activists, professors, artists, veterans, politicians and even students who thought about, built and sustained post-war reconciliation. She came back with impressive features of these protagonists and their home regions, real stories from the ground that we’ve published here and here. In order to show the true face of what’s going on around Europe, Alizée also took pictures. We loved them so much that we decided to give Tales of the afterwar a second life: a photo exhibition dedicated entirely to the project.

The opening exhibition will take place on the 3rd of May at 6:30 pm, at the city hall of the 14th arrondissement in Paris. Just stick 2 Place Ferdinand Brunot in your Google Maps and you’ll find it. The photos will be exhibited there for a week before travelling around the city.

If you’re trying to answer that question, then come. The exhibition will allow you to put faces and names on a subject that our generation should talk about more. Deal?  

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Find the opening exhibition of Tales of the afterwar on Facebook

Translated from Exposition : quand Cafébabel répand la paix 

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