Animal images

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation.


Martina Bacigalupo, Tommaso Bonaventura, Antoine Dumont, Thomas Fontaine, Marc Gibert, Nicolas Silberfaden/ Photographers

Chargé de projet:
Mathieu Marion


“Offer your own personal perspective of zoos” was the intentionally brief instruction that F93 gave five classes, their teachers and the photographer contributors involved in the “Animal Images” project. For several months, the 5 groups immersed themselves in the topic via encounters in the classroom and photo-shoot sessions at the Parc Zoologique de Paris and the Natural History Museum’s Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes. The relationship with animal nature, the wild, discussions about the zoo as an enclosed space, meeting those who go or live there (animals as well as visitors and zookeepers), the imagination aroused by these landscapes, etc. - each group sought to highlight in pictures the nature of its relationship to zoos, and to its zoo.

Workshops: (spotlight on the project of the class from Théodore Monod College in Gagny)
The project began with an investigative phase: how can pictures inform and become journalistic? It involved being immersed in a “culture” using various famous photo essays published in the press: the students studied and discussed them to then construct an original perspective of animals in zoos. A more practical mission was also organised by Thomas Fontaine, the contributor, to learn the vocabulary of taking photos (what is a “composition”? Where does the reader stand in all this, etc?)

Seeing and Taking a Second Look
Sorting, classifying and tidying up are intrinsic activities in photography and an integral part of a photographer’s work (yesterday it was negatives, today it’s digital files). For scientists, they are also logical tools to understand our world. The photographic research focused on the classification of nature, drawing inspiration from pictures in themed collections of the animal kingdom by biological area, such as farm animals or river animals, and this time with the theme of zoo animals. During the trips to the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes and the Parc Zoologique de Paris, the students had to take into account and make use of the difficulties of taking pictures through enclosures, wire fences and glass as well as the natural or artificial light of the vivariums.  

Wild and Enclosed
The students then sorted, tidied and classified the photos they had taken according to criteria that, rather than being scientific, were this time emotional and aesthetic, in order to compile collections. Comparing the pictures taken at the Ménagerie and the Vincennes Zoo allowed them to understand that zoos are places for representation and at the same time, they represent our changing relationship with nature. Through the prism of photography, this project was an opportunity for very rich discussions about our relationship with animal nature and the untamed world – a world under threat.

“Les Animages” is a special issue published thanks to the students’ work. With a print run of 300 copies, its 80 pages describe the unique relationships woven between the students and the zoos. The students distributed their booklets to accompany the photo exhibitions put on in each participating school.


Outings (selection):
- Parc Zoologique de Paris
- The Natural History Museum’s Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

Participating Schools:
- Class 6èmeH and 5èmeH, Collège Jacques Jorissen, Drancy
- Class Ulis, Collège Romain Rolland, Clichy-Sous-Bois
- Class 6ème I, Collège Rosa Luxembourg, Aubervilliers
- Class 5ème3 and 4èm4, College Théodore Monod, Gagny
- Class 5èmC, Collège Joséphine Baker, Saint-Ouen



Animal images
Animal images