Fragments of History

A voyage back in time with François Beaurin and Francis Meslet's Historic Sites. This guided photographic tour has a very private, post-apocalyptic "Cinema Paradiso" atmosphere through halls devoid of performers and spectators. Theatres, operas, and all kinds of living areas that abound with life and spectacle. However, here, they are devoid of any human presence.

While François Beaurin conveys a message of warning through his images of film theatres with uncertain futures, Francis Meslet pays tribute to places that have already been abandoned. In both cases, these testimonies act as time capsules that question the perpetuity of the arts and the venues that honour them. At first we are perturbed, then intrigued. What if, in the end, it is when venues are empty or even abandoned that we can appreciate their true value, rediscover their beauty, feel their atmosphere?


Born in Bordeaux, François Beaurain is indisputably an atypical and multidisciplinary profile. After obtaining his doctorate in Chemistry, he enlisted in the fight against climate change. It was only in 2013, after a ten-year scientific career, that he embarked on photography during a stay in Liberia.

Quickly recognised for his pioneering work on animated GIF, his works were later revealed during prestigious exhibitions, including that of the Guggenheim (Bilbao), Lagos Photo Festival (Nigeria), or Les Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles (France). Currently, François Beaurain lives and works in Rabat, Morocco. In 2021, the photographer released his first book. It concerns a little-known and threatened heritage: that of Moroccan cinemas.

For François Beaurin, the process of abandonment is already taking place before our helpless eyes. And yet we cannot help but feel a wide-eyed admiration for these extremely rich architectures. This architecture stands on its own as a showpiece, and yet it is hidden behind doors that are too often closed - for lack of an audience.

“The message is simple, we are at a critical point in the history of film when theatres might disappear. We must raise awareness of this heritage, protect it and restore it, but also rediscover the cinematographic experience, in which people come together to share a film.”


A graduate in Design from the École des Beaux-Arts de Nancy in 1986, early in his career Francis Meslet was a designer, but soon turned to advertising when he joined several advertising agencies as an artistic director. After 30 years spent questioning the creative concept and studying images in all his compositions, he is now a creative director.

Francis Meslet wears several hats; he is notably a renowned photographer who does not hesitate to roam the world in his spare time, searching for abandoned sites, sanctuaries where time seems to have stopped after humans have evacuated them. He thus brings back captivating and melancholic images of his travels to the other side of the world.

Sumptuous theatres from which an air of opera still emanates, Moroccan cinemas in Andalusian styles, or art deco relics, this precious legacy is under threat. For Francis Meslet, however, it is already too late, so we might as well sit back and enjoy the show.

“It is absolutely fascinating to enter a place where the occupants have left their mark behind them: their personal effects, their furniture, the remains of their habits… sometimes a whole lifetime.”