The legend factory

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 (40 hours) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation.

 

Contributors : mask designers, artists

 

Objectives:
To explore the unique spirit that floats over certain creative costumes originating from Peru, Switzerland and France: a combination of traditions, rites and festivals in which disguise is taken to a very sophisticated level. This can be seen in pictures of people wearing extraordinary costumes: an almost animal figure, a spirit, a “demon god”, etc. Once designed, the students also learn how to activate these “creations”.

Workshops:  
The Force of the Other
Where do these characters from folk festivals originate? Using visual documents, the contributor instigates an analysis of disguises and the context of their birth – the carnival – in terms of transgressing social roles, genders and hierarchies; the use of materials and forms (leaves, feathers, skins, wood); and the incorporation of different narratives (voodoo, imaginary narratives, protests). This overview provides students with a basis to devise a repertoire of forms, styles and costumes.

The Story and its Forms
Each class comes up with a project. Firstly, they formulate a general story in which each student can explore the principle of a costume design: who or what do the students want to design the costume for? In the present? For themselves? For an “invisible” character? The contributor then supervises individual work on the characters using preparatory sketches, designing the skeletal structure, accessories, etc. Finished designs are produced to display the students’ projects: heads on shoulders, masks and costumes, collective, articulated giants, etc.

Feathers
The next phase involves making the costumes. This also provides an opportunity to think about recycling and DIY (paper, cardboard, textiles, fibres, etc.); shapes and articulations are stabilised for more realistic handling. Particular attention is given to finishing touches, for which the students make use of pigments, feathers, frames and make-up to customise their creations.

 

Drawings: JACQUES FLORET

The legend factory
The legend factory
The legend factory
The legend factory
The legend factory