The diagonal du vide, or ‘diagonal of emptiness’, describes a series of places which are amongst the most underrepresented in the French territory. Stretching across the nation – from the Belgian border in the north-east to the Pyrenees in the south-west – the disparate geographies of the area are unified by a low-density of industry, population and media coverage. Magnum photographer Antoine d’Agata and French-Tunisian author and philosopher Mehdi Belhaj Kacem travelled across 1500 kilometers to document this desolate region, which has become associated with the ongoing anti-government “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protests. As Belhaj Kacem puts it, “we [wanted] to feel the pulse of the France that has given rise to the now-famous gilets jaunes. We [wanted] to visit Ghost France.”
Antoine d’Agata’s images map the 339 towns, villages and hamlets the pair passed through, capturing the topographic origins of France’s current political face-off.