Art curator

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. 


Tutors: Cécile Roche-Boutin, Florence Guionneau-Joie/ freelance curators

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud


The verb “to exhibit” has a decisive hold over certain practices in “Art”. This initiative proposes to put the students in a real situation with this permanent feature of the relationship between works of art and the public by offering them the opportunity to mount a real exhibition. For this, they are given access to a collection from the county’s contemporary art archives, a site and the advice of an experienced curator.

What is a collection?
To start the mission, the students are invited to browse through several exhibition catalogues. The contributor underlines the wealth of possibilities, the rules and the options open to them. The class is then confronted with the county’s art collection in its diversity of forms and mediums: photographs, paintings, sculptures, drawings, etc., as well as artists who are living or dead, French or foreign, and works and artists with or without connections to Seine-Saint-Denis.

Seeing and knowing
After exploring the collection in the strictest sense, the students begin to think about pre-selecting around 25 works from among over 2000 pieces, with no prior practical, artistic or technical restrictions. This involves appreciating the collection freely whilst retaining the final goal – to mount a collective exhibition. The task of exploring and preselecting is superimposed with analysis and writing sessions.

At this point, the contributor introduces some restrictions determined by the space allocated to the exhibition, the number of classes, etc. The final exhibition will be based on the principle of an alphabet book: the students have to match a work of art with a letter of the alphabet and then with a word that summarises the class’ thoughts on the chosen work. This writing task is at the heart of the workshop and is expanded by drafting informative plaques and short descriptive notices.

From 12th – 29th May, the 116, Contemporary Art Centre in Montreuil, showed the exhibition “Commissaire d’art” within its walls (videos, sculptures and installations, paintings and photographs). During the 3-week exhibition, around 450 visitors saw the students’ selection, reflections and writings based on works from the county’s contemporary art collection. 

Acknowledgements: Nathalie Lafforgue, Bureau des arts visuels et cinéma, Conseil départemental de la Seine-Saint-Denis, Jane Toussaint, Department of Cultural Development, (Montreuil), Le 116 Centre d’art contemporain, Marine Clouet, Head of Public Relations, Le 116 Centre d’art contemporain, Lucie Delhomme, Crown Fine Art Paris


Outings (selection):

Participating schools:
- Class 6, Collège Jacques Prévert, Noisy-le-Sec
- Class 4, Collège Antoine de Lavoisier, Pantin
- Class 4, Collège René Descartes, Le Blanc-Mesnil



Art curator
Art curator
Art curator
Art curator
Art curator