Epilogue: An ode to Beauty
I wanted to see her with my own eyes, this Young Muslim woman living on the outskirts of Paris. I wanted to meet her far from away from the media cliche. Me, Ilse Frech, a Dutch woman living in Paris, I wanted to talk to her, to penetrate her universe. I wanted our dialogue to be more than an exchange between two people in the same room. I wanted our meeting to have another dimension. She proved to me that Muslim women in Paris' suburbs are not 'one size fits all'.
She showed me how she's different. She bared her soul and revealed to me the way she sees herself: The self-image she is proud of. The one she carries with her each and every day: The embodiment of a modern, independent, inquisitiveyoung woman who's aware of her choices, cherishes her freedom, and knows her limits.Infused in Muslim Culture, sometimes she carries her faith deep inside, like an intimate conviction.
Sometimes she wears her faith on her sleeve, there for all to see. That, too, is her choice. But her culture is always present, like an aura she manipulates with dexterity. She knows its influence on her spirit as she takes on different identities: French and Maghrebi, French and Turkish, French and African.
With Muslim soul and secular mind, she constantly adapts to put her best face forward wherever she may be.
With great respect, I tiptoed into that place where she dwells. She brought me into her family, her home, and her heart. She introduced me to her friends, intoxicated me with her laughter, moved me with her tears... After a while I realized, she'd taken me into her sanctuary.We didn't need many words to know where we were going. I searched for her inner 'Me'; she showed me her sensibility. I sought out intimacy; she brought out depth in conversations and on film. I've rarely listened so intently, never been part of such a decisive and meaningful exchange.
Through the camera and the microphone, through the pictures and the words...I spent three years of my life getting to know her, and it's all here in 'I Am, Paradox Identity'.I wandered through the suburbs, erred though the Cites, between buildings big and small, searching streets from North to South, East to West. And as I did, the landscapes took on new colors. It started getting personal because of the faces behind the façade the sound of her names, her colorful rooms, her search for love and her self-respect, her irrepressible joy, her moments of sadness. She used to be so anonymous, I'd catch a glimpse of her from the window of the train as I passed by.
But now that glance is a gaze, a gaze from inside her world, a gaze that is returned, one that's profound and full of meaning. This is my ode to the beauty of Ile-de-France and to the amazing women who call her 'home', and welcomed me into theirs.
Ilse Frech, Paris 2008