Expeditions is an experiment in which the paths of art, social science research and popular education meet. This European cooperation project brings together a team composed of artists, social science researchers, educators and children in the cities of Tarragona in Spain (January 2013), Rennes in France (March 2013) and Warsaw in Poland (May 2013). With these participants, and families from the neighbourhoods of Ponent, Maurepas and Praga, the project assesses the invisible cultural resources of those territories that are too often stigmatised. The aim of this project lies in the transformation of our perspectives of the city:
- Re-examining the preconceived ideas of neighbourhoods known as working-class neighbourhoods,
- Reinvesting the reason for the ethnographic expedition to deconstruct it, including the current, sometimes neo-colonial, attitudes in our disciplines (art, research, education).
These immersion residencies in the three cities will give rise, among other things, to the publication of a book, the production of an art exhibition, a documentary film and a multi-disciplinary international seminar.
First test phase in March 2012 in the Maurepas neighbourhood of Rennes
From March 9th to March 18th 2012, a team of artists and researchers came to work with children and street educators in the neighbourhood of Maurepas. During the educational activities held every day by the GRPAS, small groups of children aged from 6 to 12 who lived in Maurepas met the artists and researchers associated with the project. Together they formed teams of “explorers” and (re)discovered their neighbourhood and the city of Rennes.
The explorers observed, described and collected elements of daily life (objects, situations, discourses) in Maurepas and elsewhere using different techniques (painting, photography, drawing, logbooks, cartography, sound or video recording). The unusual nature of their approach lies in the fact that they sought to put into practice one same principle of exploration: it was as if they were observing a society that was alien to the society in which they live and in which their spirit had developed. As if they were 18th century explorers discovering an unknown city. This rule formed the ironic origin of a perspective applied, by reversal, to our own society. The collection was performed by interviewing professionals in the neighbourhood (educators, shop-owners, council workers), by meeting people who live there, by disseminating graphic or visual productions, by mapping movements, by taking large non-digital photos, by recreating scenes observed in daily life with Playmobil ©, and many more methods. The residency notebooks written during this period show records of these work processes: consult the residency notebooks from March 2012.
From May 2012 onwards, the La Criée art centre made its cultural mediation resources available in order to guide the children on their discovery of museum spaces (Musée de Bretagne) and exhibitions (in particular Dockers’ Museum by Allan Sekula which presented a collection of personal objects belonging to the artist). A public presentation of this collection was then held. A preview was shown in the neighbourhood of Maurepas on May 25th 2012. The ambition of the Expeditions project lies as much in the creation and presentation of the collection as in the adventure itself that this artistic, political, scientific and social experiment comprises.
In line with this work, the visual artist Romain Louvel proposed an art installation based on the works created by the children, the artists, the educators and the researchers during the residencies. It is one of the important stages of Expeditions. It was presented from June 15 th to August 12th in the La Criée art centre, under the name L’Exposition (The Exhibition).
Bringing together a team of explorers …
Each residency brought together a team of explorers made up of artists, social science researchers, educators and children for a 3 week immersion period in a neighbourhood of the city. In Tarragona, for example, the team comprised two Spanish artists, one French artist, one Polish artist, two Spanish researchers, one French researcher, one Polish researcher, and educators and children who worked and lived in the neighbourhood. The teams for the Rennes and Warsaw residencies were composed in the same way.
During the residencies each explorer developed a project in which they used the usual tools, methods and themes of their work. At the same time each explorer was asked to imagine a work plan that would facilitate collaborations with the other explorers. This is one of the challenges of the Expeditions project : to experience different work habits and see how people from different work cultures can imagine and collaborate together on a project. Therefore, before the residencies started, each explorer was invited to think of a work plan (as well as their own work) in which they could appeal to the skills, knowledge and sensitivity of the other explorers to invent new ways of working together.
…to explore our cities and their representations
During these three three-week long residencies a team of explorers made up of artists, researchers, children from the neighbourhoods concerned and street educators met families, shop-owners and local political decision-makers from these three cities to collect opinions regarding:
- Their representations and their thoughts relating to the daily of life of neighbourhoods known as working-class neighbourhoods,
- How people from Tarragona imagine these neighbourhoods in Warsaw or Rennes, and vice-versa.
This approach aims on one hand to question once again the preconceived ideas about working-class neighbourhoods, by moving away from stigmatising discourses in particular. On the other hand, the approach reinvests the reason for the ethnographic expedition in order to deconstruct it, including the current, sometimes neo-colonial, attitudes in our disciplines (art, research, education). This double challenge of the Expeditions project happens first and above all by assessing the cultural resources of the working-class neighbourhoods.
Discover the cities and the neighborhood :
|The Expeditions project is co-organised by
- The contemporary art centre La Criée (Rennes)
|Expeditions is funded by
Partners of the project :