What's so nice about Paris

The director Bernd Boehm brings Werner Bokelberg's unique collection of historical photographs of the Paris of Fin de Si├Ęcle to life and gives people a stage beyond carelessness, cabarets and salons. He draws a multifaceted moral picture of the capital of the retail trade and documents the everyday life of the common people with photo cards of the "petit commerce".

The viewer gets an insight into the emergence of a new photographic genre and the development of consumer culture in the 19th century. He gets to know the working world, ethos and culture of the shopkeepers and their employees, who let themselves be photographed seriously and self-confidently in front of their shops.

The historical photos were supposed to act as an advertising medium for the shops and their products, but the fascination of these photographs is mainly due to the people. They give them expression and move the shop windows, which with their shop displays are reminiscent of a goods platform, into the background. They embody the optimistic zeitgeist of the Belle Epoque and tell of the hard everyday life, full of privation, of the dignity of work and the righteousness of their class.

The photo cards allow an intimate perspective that was previously more familiar from the interpretations of intellectuals of the time, painters and writers. The collection sees itself as a chronicle of a forgotten time and provides a sociologically interesting and authentic portrait of society, which is discussed by photo historians and curators and placed in the socio-cultural context.