The Production of Destruction

“If space-junk is the human debris that litters the universe, junk-space is the residue mankind leaves on the planet.”

This quote by architect Rem Koolhas confronts you as you enter Jean Castorini and Vinzent Wesselman’s exhibition The Production of Destruction. The paradoxically titled exhibition attracted a steady stream of curious visitors to its opening on Monday evening. Clutching cups of cider and walking around the gallery in a low buzz of voices, groups took in the powerful assemblage of modernising urban scenes in South East Asia and glacial landscapes of the Arctic.

As a self described visual metaphor, the photos are curated to elicit a sense of dissonance between the two environments and spark conversation on the nature of modern industrial consumerism and the effect it has on the natural world. Framed in the heat of a political climate that remains deeply divided on climate change, the photos contribute to an ongoing discussion that questions the man-made construction of the urban environments we inhabit and the negative effects their creation has on natural spaces from which we are sheltered. The stark juxtaposition of the two settings immediately brings to attention their subtle symbiosis, as photos of rapidly retreating glaciers are placed next to those depicting rapid vertical urban expansion. The images present incredible glaciers that are formed over centuries, and highlight how they are now deteriorating simultaneously with the proliferation of new skyscrapers- an unlikely but powerful predator of these ancient ice forms.

The exhibition also acknowledges the people who inhabit these places. A photo of soccer pitch nestled between mountains and an ocean speckled with icebergs. A transitory looking church in a Inuit town. A discarded gold religious relic amongst a pile of rubbish. A handless statue of Madonna. Reflections off the ocean, and off shiny skyscrapers. Through the presence and lack thereof of modernisation, we are given a clear expression on mankind’s differences.

Castorini and Wesselmann’s exhibition brings a collision of two continents into a 30 square metre gallery in Le Havre, that forces us to confront the truism that our behaviour in urban settings has immense impacts at the poles of the Earth. The

Production of Destruction is a thoughtful collection of photos that give insight into a global concern. The gallery’s program for the coming fortnight is a promising lineup of debates with guest speakers and film screenings that will continue the discourse on the most significant issue of our generation.

See below for a full schedule of the upcoming programming. The exposition closes on the 16th of April.

Joyce Fang is the Public Relations Manager of the Bureau des Arts and a reporter at Le Dragon. She is covering an exhibit by second-year students, Jean Castorini and Vinzent Wesselmann at Galerie MS.

To Speak or not to Speak

From asking a question to giving a presentation to Prix Richard Descoings, the fear of speaking never leaves. The finalist of Richard Descoings shares his fear of speaking and his speech about fearing.

I stood against the blinding darkness. My words precipitated at the tip of my tongue. All things froze for an instant before my speech as I took in the deafening silence.

I was in the Theatre Auditorium de Poitiers, which sits 1000 people. It was the final round of the Prix Richard Descoings. I carried with my every word the reputation of Le Havre.

Every February, Sciences Po undergraduates gather together for the Prix Richard Descoings, an oratory competition to select the most eloquent English and French speaker from Sciences Po. I took part in the English category while Salomé Cassarino represented the French category.

Predictably, someone who made it past two rounds of a public speaking tournament would be perfectly comfortable on a stage and under the spotlight. I am not. The fear of speaking is perhaps the most understated fear in modern society.

This fear is silent: it is the unsaid words that built up in my lungs. It is the scrutinising eye contact of those looking, the prolonged silence before speaking, the deoxygenated air breathing. It was this fear that I carried from Le Havre to Poitiers – a fear that grew with the stakes.

In the waiting room on D-day, it was this fear that united the speakers from each campus – each clutching their script and pacing in quiet momentum. When asked, each would tell you that they are not nervous, and you would believe them. After all, they are representatives of eloquence. Yet, as the clock ticks and each speaker’s turn to speak approaches, you will see the little droplets of sweat forming at the fringe of their foreheads.

The fear of speaking is perfectly normal. Receiving the prompt: “we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy,” a quote by J. K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I decided to speak about speaking itself. I decided that the steps that led me to Richard Descoings were all choices I made between what is right and what is easy. Here, I share that choice, that fear, and that speech:

[Start-of-speech]

“To speak, or not to speak, that is the question. When I open my mouth, and these words flow into your ears, in this particular order, every syllable, every movement of my lips, my tongue, every eye contact, every molecule in my body is making a choice.

You see, we are not just atoms. Words are not chemical reactions. Standing up here is not part of natural selection.

To speak is to put my life story up on the podium, where I can no longer control the reaction, the interpretation, the direction of where and how I want to hear – me. My story is my choice, but when I speak, I give this choice to you: to be silent, to clap, to laugh, to mock, to ridicule, to open your ears but not listen.

To speak is a choice. But, to speak is the 11-year-old me sitting in my class, with my teacher asking: “do you have any questions?”, and my thoughts formulating, my palms sweating, my arm not raising, my heart beat racing. I wanted to ask a simple question…but I could see the audience, the microphone that amplifies my imperfections, the spot-light of failures, the stage of my fear. All on me as I stood up and asked one…simple…question. And it was always this one…simple…question, that I rehearsed in my head, over and over again, and perfected in the exact same intonation that echoes but will never be heard. And the class is over. And I keep this question for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Because speaking is a choice…but is it really for the ones who can’t be heard?

At 16 years old, I had to give my first class presentation. I knew I must face the choice between what is right and what is easy. At least now, questions could be whispered in tiny pockets of mid-air suspended confidence, before it deflates like a balloon, as my face reddens, when my teacher says: “wow, that is a stupid question.” How then am I supposed to hear nothing but the silence of my voice for 300 seconds? How am I supposed to hear myself when I can only hear you and your loud mental judgement as I stammer…as I stammer…as I stammer…as I stammer…as I stammer? How can you say speaking is a choice when I don’t have the choice to be heard?

At 21 years old, I made a choice between what is right and what is easy. I joined a competition and it is my first time speaking to more people than in a classroom. I listened to hours and hours of “I have a dream” and watched myself in the mirror, until fear was so used to being in my veins that when my mouth finally opened, fear flew out like a butterfly ready to escape from a cocoon. I am still the 11-year-old with my thoughts formulating, my palms sweating, my heart beat racing. I am still the 16-year-old with mid-air suspended confidence in a tiny pocket of 5 minutes, before it deflates like a balloon, again.

You see, when I open my mouth, and these words flow into your ears, in this particular order, from beginning to end, from end to beginning again, every syllable, every movement of my lips my tongue, every eye contact, every molecule in my body is making a choice that is anything but easy.

We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. And today, I choose, to speak.”

[End-of-speech]

To speak or not to speak? The answer is yours.

Edited by Philippe Bédos & Maya Shenoy

Gilets Jaunes: the fire that sparked a debate

Following the prolonged Gilets Jaunes protests, students of Sciences Po Campus du Havre weigh in on the legitimacy of the movement in a deeply divided debate.

With a burning fervour, the Gilets Jaunes protests scream not only along the streets of the Champ de Mars in Paris, but echo along the corridors of Sciences Po Campus du Havre, as students—French and international—exchange opinions on the subject between classes, sometimes amicably, sometimes assertively.

Initiated by student representatives, a debate was held on 4th December in the amphitheatre of Le Havre campus, following a weekend which saw the popularly backed protest spread its way down the streets of Le Havre in fire and fury.

The debate saw a full house of all nationalities of students, eager to put forth their thoughts on the hugely controversial issue that transpired right outside their residences, weighing in on the legitimacy and effectiveness of the movement.

In this article, Le Dragon Déchaîné summarises some of the key issues raised in the debate:

Proponents of the movement, vocally advanced by several French students, opinioned that the protests should not be evaluated solely on the basis of violence inflicted by protestors; rather, one should also consider the systemic violence inflicted on the protestors through systemic socio-economic alienation by president Emmanuel Macron’s “socially and verbally violent policies.” Implied here was that the damage caused by the protests—which is estimated to be €3-€4 million as of 1 December—was incomparable to the damage of systemic inequality.

On the other hand, opponents, largely led by international students, called out proponents with the logical fallacy of “whataboutism”: suggesting that the violence inflicted via unequal socio-economic policies in no way negates the violence inflicted during the protests. “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” said one student who counter-proposed that there are many feasible alternatives to violent protests, as seen in other democratic regimes like Germany.

To this end, proponents rebutted that it is the very violence of the protest that captured the attention of the media and of the government, pointing out how peaceful protests gain less attention in France. Perhaps then, prime minister Édouard Philippe’s concession—to suspend the fuel tax rise that sparked the protests—was a sign of the political might of the protest. However, most in the room were unanimous in condemning the violence of the protest.

Nonetheless, there is a long road ahead for both protestors and democratic discourse. Opponents emphasised on the glaring lack of representatives and leadership in the movement as well as the lack of clear, focused objectives. One student commented that there is no end in“protesting for the sake of protesting.”

As with the Gilets Jaunes, uncertainty hung in the air as the debate came to an end, but not to a close. On first principle, there was an irreconcilable difference between the rights-based proponents that focused on the right to violent protest in the face of injustice and an unresponsive government, in contrast to the opponents’ utilitarian argument that focused on the futility, lack of direction and extensive damage of the protests.

Despite the announcement to reverse the rise in fuel tax, protestors have vowed to maintain their movement. The flame lingers and the discursive scrutiny continues in what may be the most consequential lesson in politics yet.

This article does not necessarily represent the views of the editors or Sciences Po.

L’appel de l’océan | Starry Waters

Un poème de Clémence des Déserts et sa traduction par Paramveer Gupta | A poem by Clémence des Déserts and its twin poem by Paramveer Gupta

“Marine, navigation au clair de lune”, Claude Monet, 1864

L’appel de l’océan

La plage endormie luit

D’une douce noirceur


Rayonnant dans la nuit


De splendides couleurs.

Assise sur un rocher

De granit et de fer


Je contemple à mes pieds


L’assourdissante mer.

Et ni l’onde bleutée,

Ni le ciel orageux,


Ni le phare agressé


Par les flots tumultueux,

Ni même ce frais vent

Qui chante de très longs


Et séduisants chants


Ne me retiendront.

Mes ailes vont s’ouvrir.

Je vois le soleil poindre,

Au loin comme pour dire:

«Vole, viens me rejoindre.»

Starry Waters

The beach reflects the darkness

Off the soft sand


Basking in the starry night


The colours of the delight

Sititing on the beach

I hear at my feet


The roaring sea


Calling something


Deep inside of me

The starry night

The sleepy cries

The hollow plights

The darkening lights

Nor the windy hollows

And the ricketing wallows

Shall keep my dreams shallow

I see the sun rise

And look into the sky

To see with my eyes

A prophecy for me to fly

A Call for Transparency

An open letter concerning Sciences Po’s administration and recent reforms, by Zhenlin Ouyang.

Zhenlin Ouyang is a second-year student at Sciences Po, Campus du Havre. He majors in Politics and Government. He is orginally from China, but lived in Canada before coming to Le Havre.

I have confidence Sciences Po, as an institution firmly rooted in and representative of democratic principles, will be receptive to criticism from its student body. Therefore, I write this letter to bring forth two major issues:

1. The lack of transparency about administrative regulations and the reform;

2. The treatment of students who are currently repeating either year of their studies;

I – The lack of transparency

Throughout our time at Sciences Po, the information we have been given has been incredibly inconsistent. In some cases, we have been given no information at all. A key example of this is the contradictory information we were given about the reform.

During the designated information session we had regarding our choice of major, we were told that:

  • our major during the third year abroad would not have to correspond to our major at Sciences Po;
  • that we would be free to pursue an intensive language program regardless of our second year major

However, during this semester, we were told the exact opposite, and the following announcements were made:

  • Our current major has to be pursued during 3A
  • Our current major also determines what universities we can apply to; as some universities do not offer certain majors
  • The intensive language program is not open to anyone anymore.

There are many questions that spring to mind:

  • Where do these inconsistencies come from?
  • Why was this reform not more thoroughly organized before being presented to the student body?
  • Why was there no procedure of consultation with the students regarding this reform?
  • And most importantly: Why were all applicants who would be subject to the reform not informed about it before applying?

Moreover, we were registered for Digital Workshop seminars (on September 14 – 15) without prior notice. However, in my opinion, we should have the ability to choose the seminars we want to sign up for.

II – The Treatment of redoublants

It is hard for students to study at such a demanding university. Enrolling for an extra year is, thereby, doubly difficult. Especially without the proper assistance.

Last summer, when I discovered I had to do an extra year, the administration and I scheduled a Skype conference to discuss my situation. In addition to a half-an-hour delay, I was only allocated five minutes of time to pose my questions. During that brief meeting, I expressed my concerns and asked two questions:

  • Would I have to re-do the group project? (Before the reform, students were required to implement a group project during the first year)
  • Would I be able to validate the internship I did during the summer of 2017?

I was told that I didn’t have to do another team project and that I would be able to validate my internship if all the relevant documents were provided.

Then, to my surprise, when I went to the administration to validate my internship during the last semester, I was given an entirely different response. They first told me that they had to check with their colleagues in Paris and, finally, that I wouldn’t be able to validate it. I was confused by their reasoning: I wrote my engagement letter about the promotion of gender equality and my internship was correspondingly conducted at an NGO promoting rights for gender minorities.

I was fed the same story when I asked them about the independent engagement. As the administration has completely ignored my repeated attempts to give my perspective, and as one of my fellow student is in the exact same situation, I would like to ask the following questions on our behalf:

  • If the reform had been set forth with clear instructions, why do we still rely on Paris for clarifications?
  • Why do I have to re-do my internship and the Independent Project? Our administration misled me by giving me contradictory instructions for half of the year (thus giving me less time than other students to find an internship). Why was I obligated to re-do this when the internship I did the year before could have been counted?
  • For students who passed conditionally: why do we still have no information on how to retake classes despite the fact that the first semester is coming to a close?

III: Our Demands

The aforementioned examples are just the tip of the iceberg, but they reflect the lack of transparency within our institution. Beyond these examples, there are several contradictory regulations (such as the absence policy) and our plans are often disturbed by the fluctuating rules passed down from the administration. We were left in the dark as to why the reform was put forth so quickly, and why the regulations were made to be so ambiguous.

When even the administration does not know what they are doing, imagine how we students feel; without sufficient and transparent information, it is difficult for students to incorporate the reform into our personal academic program.

Hence, I present this set of demands on the behalf of students of Sciences Po, who I hope will join me in this call. We hereby demand that:

  • A general assembly be held to explain why regulations about 3A have been reversed without consulting students
  • A responsive mechanism be implemented by the school to collect the students’ opinions and recommendations on the reform, and that these be taken into account
  • A unifying standard should be established to prevent any future rapid change of rules and regulations;
  • An ad hoc procedure should be negotiated for les redoublants.

We want a full account of why the school thinks it is acceptable to change rules without going through transparent and inclusive procedures, and we want to see commitments to end such practices.

Revised for clarity by the editorial team of LDD.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily represent the editorial position of Le Dragon Déchaîné.