Les Clefs de Chez Moi: Queer Home and Home-Making in Modern Paris has been in production for more than 15 months. Ella and Ray have worked to create a project that questions the interaction of public space with the feeling of home and queer identities and communities. While abroad in Paris for their junior years, they conducted interviews with gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and queer Parisians about their experiences finding or creating home in such a large and elusive city. Les Clefs began as a Smith Blumberg Travelling Fellowship in Paris and became a Special Studies course under Ann Leone, of the Smith College Landscape Studies Program, in the fall of 2018. They intended the project to culminate in a 26-minute documentary. Realizing that the project could amount to so much more than just a short film, we are thrilled to continue it in a new form with the Five College Digital Humanities Undergraduate Fellowship. The focus of this new iteration is interactivity and accessibility. Over the course of the spring semester, Ella and Ray will expand the reach of the project and explore its depths through the creation of a detailed ArcGIS Story Map that will assemble several avenues of our project, noting all of the interviewees’ personal queer landmarks in Paris. The body of the map will include 5-10 minute edited compilations of each interview, located geographically on the map by filming location, as well as short explanations of their queer “homes” in Paris. The end of the Story Map will link to a separate community-generated map where individuals around the world can view other queer spaces of home as well as add their own, which allows for the beginning of a comparative analysis of queer space as it exists in communities around the world, a better understanding of what home means to the queer community, and how we can better design public space to accommodate more diverse populations. Ella and Ray hope to show the Story Map and the community-generated map throughout the 5 Colleges as a nomadic exhibit, letting the local community view and participate in the project.
Ray Van Huizen, class of 2019, is a double major in French Studies and Sociology at Smith College. His studies have focused on the real-life consequences of broadly reaching policy and structures, as well as the implications of and reasons for certain lived experiences of underrepresented populations, such as LGBTQI+ communities. In particular, he is interested in the ways in which our society can be molded and shaped, through comprehensive health and personal education, to be more accommodating to transgender people.
Ella Martin-Gachot is a senior at Smith College. She studies Architecture and Environmental Science and Policy. Her studies have focused on the importance of place and place-making in society and the impact of public space and its design on people’s lived experiences. She is interested in storytelling and how it can adapt to the digital age, as well as in the representation of LGBTQIA+ communities and narratives around the world through film and popular culture.