PLACE À L’ART
Place à l’Art is a socially-involved project which claims the legitimacy and the importance of art in public spaces through participatory artistic happenings.
Since 2010, we have taken possession of the districts of Noailles and Belsunce, in Marseille, working in close partnership with non-profit local organisations as well as institutions. Building upon a collective creative experience, supervised by artists, we enable people to meet and share with one another around participatory projects, in the city’s squares. The latter deals with ideas such as the self, the ways people experience public spaces and the enjoyable rediscovery of collective involvement inside the city.
We believe that public spaces should enable communication, debates and creation and we claim the legitimacy of citizens in the planning and organisation of their districts. Thus, the project Place à l’Art combines artistic creations, population involvement and public spaces – considering their architectural, sensitive and social aspects. The project also contributes to the practice of ephemeral street arts by taking possession of public spaces durably and contextually.
Belsunce and Noailles, the two districts we work in through Place à l’Art have much in common: public spaces are rare, they have little to no equipment and feature many practical issues (privatisation by shop-owners, squatting, drug trafficking…) These activities are often a source of conflicts and represent an obstacle to social harmony. Additionally, in these districts, the access to artistic activities and/or places is difficult, mainly for social and cultural reasons.
Our ambition is to favour the reclaiming of public spaces by citizens and to enhance social harmony. We aim to co-develop an artistic process in accordance with its context, enabling social ties and a sense of citizenship.
In order to achieve our aims, we have set ourselves three objectives:
turning public spaces into places for communication and interaction
assisting in the reshaping of an area in collaboration with its residents
improving the inhabitants’ living environment
As part of the project Place à l’Art, we do not refer to an “audience” but to populations, inhabitants and users of the public space. We think of our project in terms of a relationship with the people: “working with” instead of “working for”, through participatory artistic workshops set in public spaces and open to all.
The first people to enjoy the project are the inhabitants of the area and its users. We endeavour to ensure the diversity of the beneficiaries and the involvement of people deemed by the local council to be priority groups (according to analysis conducted in the city centre: families, young adults, teenagers and women).
We want Place à l’Art to be a sustainable and evolutive project.
We work on our target areas for several months and dedicate time to them over the year. Artistic workshops and events are held seasonally, mainly during spring and autumn school holidays. Autumn is a defining period during which events and participatory creations are accessible to a more diverse group of people.
Between these key periods, we induce constructive dialogue amongst social players (local organisations, shop owners, accommodation administrators, technicians, elected representatives…) so as to reach, little by little, a common outlook on the areas we work on.
Our action evolves over the years, taking into account the needs and context of its location. Thus, the project has not reached the same stage in the two districts involved.
Stage 1: Revealing the potential of an area through ephemeral artistic actions
At this stage, Place à l’Art aims to gather inhabitants around the creation of a project which will modify an area and its purpose over a single day or weekend. Through this action, we intend to bring a new perspective on specific locations and to raise questions.
Currently, our project in the district of Noailles is at this stage.
Stage 2: Building temporary creation together in order to experiment with the reorganisation of a locality
After several years of experimental ephemeral actions, Place à l’Art jumps from the exploration of an area to imagining future purposes. At this stage, we assist artists, architects and designers who share the ability to translate the desires of the residents and to conceive participatory architectural creations. These creations are to remain on location for one to two years, so as to try out a potentially permanent modification of the place.
At present, we are working on this stage with the district of Belsunce.
The projects we undertake as part of Place à l’Art are participatory, creative and investigative artistic processes. We provide professional artists with a space for creation in which they can develop a project. The latter must be adapted to a specific context and involve people in its creation process.
Place à l’Art allows artists to reclaim their position at the heart of the city and of public debates; it also proves that art is legitimate in every urban context, for it is a spatial form of expression which favours active citizenship.