Formed in the context of an initiative to turn the building on 210 Rue Saint-Denis, Paris, into a prototype house for art and unsheltered migrants, Artists at Risk (AR) has joined hands with friends and partners to create “the 210”, also known as the House of Healing, and formerly the 210 Collective or Collectif 220. A skip and jump from the Pompidou, this buzzing hive of activities is located in the heart of the central 2nd arrondissement of Paris.
To keep the backstory short, the street artist Sampsa has been up to some serious mischief. Bringing the building into use in a solo action in late 2021, Sampsa launched the 210 inviting in Artist at Risk (AR), Utopia 56, United Migrants and an amazing crew of French and international graffiti artists. In the space of a few days, they painted 7 floors of interiors from head to toe, and secured the support and local know-how – including links to the City of Paris – of people such as Gaspard Delanoë of the legendary 59 Rivoli.
Given the context provided by 210 Rue Saint-Denis, seasoned professionals at Utopia 56 and United Migrants have already made the goal of housing of unhoused migrants into a reality. Every night since 31 December, the house has received 20-30 persons, consisting only (to ensure a calm environment) of families and single mothers with children. This immediate provision of family shelter will continue at least until 15 January, 2022.
For although the city-owned property had been standing empty for approximately two years, Paris Habitat – the organization charged by the City to take the house into use – has announced the long-promised date to start work on turning 210 Rue Saint-Denis into a fully-renovated, long-term housing solution for migrants and others currently living under bridges or in the street. These are often children, women and families who, only a few months before, lived everyday settled lives which with the onset of sudden war, famine or persecution, were irretrievably lost.
210 Rue Saint-Denis set as its aim to provide a model for the municipal government and state to follow in tackling the housing crisis for unsheltered migrants. The primary objective of the 210, and its conception for the future as a “House of Healing” is not just to offer a roof and bed for the night – but to facilitate the healing of trauma and PTSD that many migrants experience. This healing model is being conceived and brought to life with the help of professionals in the fields of shelter, nutrition, psychology, physiotherapy, yoga, meditation and more.
As of 2020, at least 90,000 asylum seekers were not accommodated in France. Those left without shelter are often subject to brutal measures, whether it be by the police or malign actors, including harassment, eviction, arrest and confiscation of possessions. This often leaves migrants battling mental and physical illnesses caused by the stress and violence they face on the streets.
The 210 has not only accelerated a long-overdue process, but has also given people who escaped from war and persecution, a roof, a warm bed, and perhaps even some peace of mind.
The 210 also assisted Artists at Risk (AR) in raising funds for Afghan artists who are struggling through the harsh winter without means to support themselves and their families as the Taliban has banned art and music, leaving them without jobs. The 210 put on sale prints of works by these artists, with all proceeds from the sales going directly to the artists.
Special thanks to Sampsa, Utp 56 and countless others for their contribution to this visionary initiative, which initiates a new chapter for Artists at Risk in Paris. Together we can move mountains.
La Parisien here: https://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75/paris-le-collectif-210-occupe-un-batiment-rue-saint-denis-pour-aider-les-migrants-15-12-2021-DKXKO7QY6NBYHEE56UCX2GZ3MI.php (in French)
Find google-translated version here:
An excellent early video made by La Parisienne: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuKOzkJ3cI0
7 o’clock TV-news on France 3, Paris – Île de France
A write up on the street art aspect especially, in the cultural magazine Hiya, here:
Find google-translated version here: https://hiya-fr.translate.goog/2021/12/20/sampsa-un-artiste-urbain-au-secours-des-refugie-e-s-au-210-rue-saint-denis-paris-2e/?_x_tr_sl=fr&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US
France24 (International news, French version)
BFM TV (the most popular French news channel): https://www.bfmtv.com/paris/replay-emissions/bonsoir-paris/paris-un-immeuble-mele-street-art-et-accueil-de-migrants_VN-202112300304.html?fbclid=IwAR2m0ehkbkEs7JDzmzwt90QiJQhxFNRJtocHgncTiDMMcfwyacEnKo7s4JQ