Ouest Park Festival: What makes Le Havre a city and what makes Le Havre a home.

As the fall break passes, second year student Shivani Ekkanath takes a minute to contemplate a popular LH festival, and her time in our beloved city.

Think obscure artists, all manner of techno, pop, and indie, paired with seizure-inducing lights, deafening cheers, cheap beer and an overall, great weekend? C’est l’Ouest!

We always believe that Le Havre is quaint and small, yet there has always been more to this maritime port city that so many of us SciencesPistes call home. Owing to the thriving youth population, Le Havre has steadily transformed over the years. Ouest Park Festival is an excellent representation of these dynamic changes as well as the vibrant cultural wave that is overtaking the city as it transitions from its old roots to form a new cultural identity. One of the venues, Le Tetris, a gentrified establishment as well as an important cultural project, is proving to be the melting pot of Le Havre’s growing hipster and artistic culture with its melange of live performances and acts. The festival is also a great way to support and give local artists from Normandy a platform and an opportunity to share their music with a large mass audience, especially because prices for tickets are nominal and the last day is free of cost and people often come in big groups with their family and friends.

The weekend of Ouest Park witnessed dozens of artists, both established and up and coming, across France and beyond, making their way to Le Havre to share their latest music with avid and eager Havraises, among them many of us Sciences Pistes! The sixteenth edition of Ouest Park proved to be yet another breath of fresh air as we finally bid farewell to the summer and welcomed the colder but colourful and crisp months of fall. This year featured artists such as Daysy, Cadillac, Hocus Pocus, Taxi Kebab, Hellios Collective and others, each bringing with them a distinct and unique sense of style. Many of the Ouest artists this year explored and experimented with different types of music within genres like electro and groove. For example, the band Helios Collective riled up audiences with their haunting yet powerful tribute to the city. Born and bred in Le Havre, they conveyed the feral and wild nature of Le Havre’s cliffs, rough seas and beaches through their experimentations with different kinds of techno music, while also drawing inspiration from Le Havre’s industrial roots and evolving modernity in some of their pieces. Similarly, acts like The Jungle and Sentimental Race also featured a lot of music incorporating techno, percussion and other elements like rave and gabber.

Moreover, one of my first experiences in Le Havre was in fact, my visit to Ouest as I climbed the steps to Fort de Tourneville breathless but excited to see Therapie Taxi in concert and engage with my strange but fascinating new environment. My second time at Ouest not only took me back to this first few weeks of the first semester last year but also made me reflect on how fleeting time is indeed as we come to the second half of the semester. A large part of my love for Ouest over the past two years has also been other aspects of the festival, from the hype and the introduction of the acts on the Facebook page to its atmosphere, not to mention the free crepes. Apart from that, this is obviously the best opportunity to discover and explore new music as well. One of my personal favourites was a band called Daysy, I have even added a lot of their music to my playlist. They incorporate a lot of pop, soul and urban touches with their powerful vocals and deep lyrics, both in English and French. I now realise that the festival is also one of the only occasions where we truly see Le Havre in its truest form and essence. It is a great lens into the local culture, as we temporarily leave the everyday hustle and bustle of the Sciences Po bubble and engage and experience the liveliness and life of the city.

Perhaps, when I look back at my time in Le Havre during my 3A next year, I will remember my time at Ouest, which marked the beginnings of the two years of my university experience as well as the beginning of my concluding year. It remains one of those transitory phases, where I am finally at peace with my environment and bask in the comfort of what I can call home in my own way before I await the next phase of what is to come.

Photos: author.

Festival Ono’u: A Meeting of Colours

Edouard Pack from our editing team writes about an important festival happening in Tahiti this month and what it means to him.


I didn’t grow up in a particularly cultured household- we didn’t go to museums or exhibitions every weekend nor attend the opera or theatre on Friday nights. But art does exist around us, and learning how to find it and appreciate it under its different forms is enhancing and satisfying to me. Through the tahitian festival Ono’u, I had the chance to discover street art while seeing the face of Papeete being modified progressively year after year.

The name of the festival, “ONO’U”, is inspired by the fusion of the two Tahitian words “ONO” (action of joining one thing to another) and “U” (colors) to express the action of connecting a color to another and “the meeting of colors” in Tahiti through the art of graffiti.

The festival was created in 2014 by Sarah Roopinia, a young Tahitian entrepreneur who discovered Street Art while studying in Paris and Berlin. After four editions and dozens of international and local graffiti artists, Ono’u has become an important event in the world of graffiti. It is also a popular festival that has helped change the somewhat sad face of Papeete, turning the city into an open-air art gallery.


Since 2014, the festival has attracted numerous artists each year, but also a charming crowd; gathering workers stopping by during their break, students coming after school, or simple passerbys. During those ten yearly days of reshaping, the festival has often turned into a seeking game for my friends and I, walking through the city to witness the new pieces that pop up around corners, on the shop walls, or near our high school.

At a first glance, we used to gaze these ten meter high walls with artists lifted in front drawing some abstracts forms. But as days went by, the advancing street art started to take shape, the pieces of the puzzle coming together until the final work is completed. The initiative of the festival was very controversial at the beginning, with the local population being afraid of the normalisation of graffitis that would allow small “gangs” and youngsters to draw freely wherever they feel like.


But one of the announced objectives of Ono’u? To bring a form of well-being, joy and poetry into the everyday lives of Polynesians through art- a gentle escape that takes them out of their sometimes dull immediate environment and routine.

The challenge for the 6th edition of Ono’u, specially created for social housing in partnership with the Polynesian Office of the Habitat, is to transform one thousand square meters into works of art in less than 10 days. Four social residences are involved in this operation which takes place from October 15th to 25th 2019 and will allow the transformation of 7 large social housing wall façades with a selection of 9 international and local artists.

Students residence “Paraita”, by OKUDA & RIVAL

Comparing the festival Ono’u to “un été au Havre”, I am thrilled of the ephemerality of both events, attracting people because of their limited presence, but at the same time leaving the remaining works of past editions which continue to adorn the cities, giving a charm to them.

On the occasion of the celebration of Le Havre’s 500th anniversary in 2017, Jace, a Le Havre-borned street artist called on Thai artist Alex Face to create this collaborative work. The piquant meeting of two emblematic characters of street art, the gouzou and the famous childish character in the costume of rabbit and the third eye.

During the floods in Tahiti on January 22th 2017, one of the graffitis has been photographed flooded, gaining a mystical yet realistic perspective, giving life to the Va’a (Polynesian canoe, ndlr) and the Vahine who navigates it.


The festival Ono’u is first and foremost a place of sharing colorful international artistic exchanges, and more importantly, a place of opening on contemporary urban art and culture in the heart of the South Pacific. I like to think that street art is crystalizing the essence of art, adding a more accessible aspect to it by mixing them with the architecture of the city.


WHAT’S ON? Le Havre – October

October’s here and so is a pick of what the city has to offer this month.

1st- 9th November

Exhibition: Une Éternité au Havre- Camille Rault








Les Nuits de Tourisme

Concert: Requiem for L

5th & 6th

Workshop– MuMa


Concert: Bare Hands

Concert: Abraham Inc.




Jean-Paul Julliand


BDA/AS Halloween Night


Classical Concert at MuMa


Concert: Who’s the Cuban?

Concert: Sadgirl X El Achaya

And then enjoy fall break x

WHAT’S ON? Le Havre – September

As the end of this month approaches, make sure to take some time to visit some of the last cultural events and exhibitions of the summer before the cold and busy months well and truly kick in.

21st-22nd – Journées Européennes du Patrimoine

Many cultural sites not usually open to the public will be open for visits, and other cultural sites will have special events, guided tours, free entry etc. All the info for this is listed here. It’ll be a fantastic opportunity to get out and explore the city! Don’t miss out!


Foul Weather Music Festival

Punk is Not Dead


Herr Krank EP Launch

Dance Battle


Second Hand Instruments and Vinyl Garage Sale

Until the 22nd

Un été au Havre




Campus Festival Université du Havre


Live HipHop


Martin Solveig Concert at 7pm Quai SouthHampton

Foul Weather Music Festival


Les nuits de Tourisme – many museums and galleries around the city will be open in the evening with events. Check some out here and here.


St Vincent Piéton

Until the 29th

Exhibition by Stephan Balkenhol au Portique

Until the 5th Oct

Exhibition “Vivas Nos Queremos” at Le Tetris

Chroniques Havraise photography exhibition


The City With Red Doors

[From the print] Our correspondent relates the experience of an anonymous prostitute on the streets of Kolkata.

Source: Sandra Hoyn

Society has always viewed prostitution as a universal evil and the people associated with it are vessels that harbour an unimaginable form of sin. Society has certain names for us, names that are meant to demean, for the purpose to abuse and shame. People in the sex industry can never escape the tag of their profession, I often feel as if there was a tilak (mark) on my forehead. Everyone I know, knows who I am and what I do. Most of them do not know my name but that does not matter because to them, I am a whore.

I was named after the Hindu Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi. In the dichotomous framework that India finds itself in, Lakshmi was both a goddess said to bring prosperity and fortune and a prostitute with broken dreams and nowhere to go. Amma, the woman whom I was sold to by my trafficker refused to have one of her ‘girls’ be called after a goddess, whose legs were open like one of Lakshmi’s lotuses. Amma was a pious woman and her tolerance towards blasphemy, freedom, and justice was an incontestable nil.

For years, the only escape, I had was my tiny window with an ineffective mosquito net and broken dreams. I would take refuge in the dream of going back to my village but quickly shook away the thought. I was one of them, a whore, a sex worker. My village would never accept someone with that label.

So, eventually Lakshmi was forgotten and Munni was born. There were three other Munni’s where I worked. They all probably had stories similar to mine but we never asked one another. Our name had no character, no significance, a perfect fit for the profession. A prostitute was a person with no stories, to be used as an object to please and fulfil fantasies. If my client replaced my name with another, it did not affect me. I was an artificial host of the dirty and unmentionable, who was less than the rest and society had chosen her to be the sacrifice of its community.

Source: Bernard Henin

The words used to describe my kind are considered vulgar and offensive in almost every spoken language in the world. From Bengali to English, prostitution has negative connotations. My profession itself was an offence. A whore, slut, prostitute, hooker are words that are meant to bring shame to the person who is called one. Language, often provides, a good insight on society. For instance, the tone and language used for prostitution tells you just what the community feels about it: filthy and immoral. When one joins my former profession, it is near impossible to escape from its clutches. Where do we go? Everywhere we try to run or hide and all they can see is a woman who has lost her morality and ergo her identity. If you were to go to any sex worker their thoughts or educate them on societal labels. They would laugh at how little the world knows. How little the world knows and how much the world hides. The slurs that were thrown at me stopped bothering me after a while because they had helped erase all that made me human.

Source: Prateek Jain

The Sonagachi red-light district in Kolkata, my former home was and still is a favourite amongst men, the kind that always had narcotics with them and greeted us with slurs. It was also the home to men who had large bungalows in the affluent localities of Alipore and Park Street . They were awful, they saw me as nothing more than the products of their sick twisted fantasies. These men were responsible for Sonagachi’s prosperity but refused to acknowledge their acquaintance with the place. Sonagachi is known for a lot of things in the city of Calcutta but it is most certainly not known for its justice. The Government of India has failed miserably to rehabilitate sex workers. The promised voter cards have been given but we can’t do anything. The powerless do not give the powerful power, it is taken away from us. Sonagachi is a label that never goes away. Your identity revolves around it and society only fixates on that.

Yama, the Hindu God of Justice, was always a busy person and rumours spread that he had a bigger disdain for prostitutes than the society we lived in. We never saw him, he had become a myth, a legend, that would help us fall asleep but he never showed up. The police, the ‘protectors of justice’, turned out to be regular customers. So, as quickly as we had thought of Yama, he had given up on us and we were once again alone and still whores.

After all these years, it is very easy to vouch that a life of a prostitute in India can never truly escape the experiences of physical and mental displacement, feeling unrooted, and unlearning and relearning their identities. A prostitute can never forget staring at another sex worker’s eyes because the lifelessness of her eyes mirrors hers. One learns the truly understands society when one works in an industry that feeds on exploitation. Even when you have escaped the label, the profession, you can never forget the language and its meaning. Society and taboo, both do not believe in a fair trial. A name is enough.

This letter is in no means for sympathy but serves as a reflection on Indian society. The pride that we hold so close to us about the balance of the ancient and the modern is nothing more than a nicely wrapped fallacy. Oppression has not been moderated but has merely transformed into other forms, just as bad as its predecessor. We live in our own cocoons that keeps us ignorant to the grave injustice, millions face right outside our doors. We turn our heads away from taboos because of the blasphemous and licentious stamp stuck to it. Taboo is blasphemy and all the greatest truths start as blasphemy.

If you want to learn more about the lives of sex workers in Kolkata, you can give this short video by the Youtube channel Ross Kemp Extreme World.


Edited by Pailey Wang, Philippe Bédos and Maya Shenoy