One For All  

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:
Cultural sociologists, art historians

Project Manager:
Florise Pagès

 

Objectives:
To find out what motivated the commission and execution of a work of art in a school. This project will involve examining the entire approach known as “Percent for Art” or 1% artistique in France: why install an artwork in a secondary school, and why this one in particular? What are the desired effects and what do we think of it as students, teachers and secretarial staff – the people intended to see this artwork every week?

Workshops in Class:
1% of what?  
By way of introduction, the contributor and the students reconstruct the entire process of the “percent for art”, identifying its actors and mechanisms. What are the stages, criteria and rules of the 1%? The students conduct their research by interviewing the various protagonists such as the architect and the project owner, to get a detailed and adjusted initial portrait of this process and its specificity.  

21st century art  
The class then discusses the meaning of the term “contemporary art”. In groups, the students compile a full description of the artwork and review the materials and techniques, the topicality of the message conveyed, the spatial installation, the interaction with the public, its permanence and so on, and then list these markers that they compare with other fields of contemporary creation they’re familiar with such as music or cinema. This leads them to discuss the artist him or herself, whom they contact. What does his/her job involve? Does s/he work alone and where? The class records the responses, and discusses subjects such as the distinction between commissioned art and spontaneous creation, and intention with the artist. 

In public
Lastly, the students finalise a questionnaire that they submit to everyone who sees this artwork on a  daily basis – i.e. its “public” (students, teachers, secretarial staff, passers-by) – to poll their rapports with this artwork and see if it has an effect on them, to understand their doubt, their curiosity, their attraction, their scorn or their indifference towards it. And if it has no effect, why not? The students and contributor draw up an overview of the responses, which they use to tell the updated story of this work of art in their school.

 

Participating Schools:
- Jacques Prévert, Noisy-le-Sec
- Jean Lurçat, Saint-Denis
- Collège International, Noisy-le-Grand

 

Photos: DAMIEN DELDICQUE, JÉRÔME AUBRY & ALEXANDRE SCHUBNEL, LABORATOIRE DE GÉOLOGIE DE L’ENS PARIS. 

One for all