Voyage immobile

Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

Voyage et livre


We propose to stop at the most busy place, at the very heart of the networks, in the eye of the hurricane, at the focal point of the Parisian megalopolis. The voyage immobile, or motionless journey, or travel-point condenses the energy of the journey into one carefully chosen location. The experience was conducted by several people using a protocol that each one of them interprets as he/she wishes : the book Voyages immobiles au Forum des Halles (in French only) brings together the texts of ten of these travellers.

NB. The journeys take place in the Forum des Halles in the late 2000s, before its renovation.

Photograph : Stéphane Degoutin
Photograph : Corinne Laurent Dell'Accio
Photograph : Gwenola Wagon
Book Voyage immobile au forum des Halles

The Forum des Halles in Paris is a place with which we have a false familiarity. The collective representations associated with it are built from the accumulation of fleeting, daily repeated impressions of millions of passers-by :

Mystique of the Great Escalator

Compressed Crowd

Human Pinball

Labyrinth of Depths

Are these millions of imperfect pieces of knowledge less real, less valid, than an improbable "truth" of the place ? Repeated ad infinitum, partial perceptions become reality.

We have proposed the experience to several travellers, by giving them a few rules. Each one interprets or diverts them as he wishes :

  • The journey is made alone (it is however possible to meet people "on the way").
  • The traveller remains motionless (once he has found his place, he will not change it again).
  • The trip lasts a minimum of three hours (the maximum duration is not fixed : it is up to the traveller to decide when to end the experience).
  • The traveller does not engage in any time occupation (no book, walkman or other, unplug the cell phone).

We suggest a list of favorable locations. The traveller can also suggest one of his choice.

Do nothing : abandon any utilitarian relationship to the city, any use of urban space oriented towards a goal. Abandon any aesthetic relationship to the city. The goal is not to contemplate the landscape; rather, to be part of it.

Passenger Recruitment

We collect a non-representative sample of points of view. They are, strictly speaking, travel stories. As such, they can be inaccurate, incomplete, exaggerated... A trip is not a sociological survey or research aimed at objectivity or exhaustiveness.

We ask travellers to analyze rather than describe, to record the thoughts that come to them during the trip, rather than a simple recording of what surrounds them.

In other words, we reverse Georges Perec's procedure in An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris which states the totality of the facts he perceives, without changing the description through analysis.

On August 14, 2007, Stéphane Degoutin remains motionless inside the metro and RER interchange hall, at the heart of the flows of a permanently circulating crowd, while Gwenola Wagon settles in the centre of the Place basse, in a meeting place.

Photographs : Gwenola Wagon
Stéphane Degoutin
Photographs : Stéphane Degoutin
Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon

On 21 September 2007, Julie Vayssière sits at the top of the mound overlooking the Place René Cassin. Alexis Chazard makes a journey in the void of the Porte du jour. Cécile Bicler takes notes between the shops on level -1 of the Forum.

Alexis Chazard
Photographs : Alexis Chazard
Cécile Bicler

On November 24, 2007, Joffrey Dieumegard becomes a writer-inspector at the entrance of the post office, Porte Lescot at level -4 while Rebecca Hargreaves directs her gaze towards the Place basse, behind the glass of the restaurant Oh Poivrier !

Photograph : Rebecca Hargreaves
Gwenola Wagon and Julie Morel. Photoraph : SD
Gwenola Wagon, Joffrey Dieumegard and Rebecca Hargreaves
Joffrey Dieumegard
Rebecca Hargreaves

On 8 December 2007, Marie Daubert settles in the centre of the UGC cinema, Julie Morel above the escalators of the Lescaut door, while Elie Kongs, between the exchange room and the Square, monitors the illegal activities of some RATP controllers.

Elie Kongs receives a fine for standing still in the Forum des Halles.

On 15 December 2007, Caroline Delieutraz stands at the top of the escalators, a few metres from the Café Nolita, on level-2.

Photographs : Nathalie Roth

On 1 February 2008, Alice Leduc travels to level-1, on the east side, overlooking the Place basse, between two ficus. Alex Knapp sits near the hip hop dancers' corner, under the UGC cinema.

Alice Leduc
Alex Knapp

Vanina Sopsaisana, who came up with the idea for the trip, travels side to side vith a ventilation tube.

On June 28, 2008, during a workshop organized by Ars Longa, Samuel B. zigzags between the Place basse and the Place carrée, Jean Bescos stops on a bench in the garden, Ali Diarra sits on a lawn, Cristhian Galeano stands as an observer of the Grand trou, Geneviève Hergott settles down in allée Garcia Lorca, and Alex Knapp sits near the corner of the hip hop dancers, under the UGC cinema ; Boris Beaude watches the Place carrée; Corinne Laurent Dell'Accio teases the pigeons and the teak dancers of the Lautréamont terraces and Patrick Poncet observes the men who accompany their wives to the Kookaï shop.

Photographs : Corinne Laurent Dell'Accio

On March 27, 2009, Elodie Goddard asked passers-by to redesign the police officers' uniforms.


Olivier Razemon, "Voyager sans autre but que se déconnecter du quotidien", Le Monde, 12 août 2009.

"Marie Lechner, To go or not to go, Libération, 1er juin 2009.

Dominique Moulon, "Un regard sur l'exposition Nogo Voyages",


Exposition Nogo Voyages. Ars Longa, 6 mai - 12 juin 2009. Paris


Texts by

Vanina Sopsaisana

Cécile Bicler

Alexis Chazard

Joffrey Dieumegard

Élodie Goddard

Élie Kongs

Graphic design : Maja Korac