« Des maux, des musées, des mots »
Strasbourg 2017 – 2018
For the fourth year, the Educational Service of the Museums of Strasbourg and the Hans Arp Secondary School (Strasbourg, Elsau neighborhood) participated in the “Curating a Culture of Respect” program.
During the first semester, the 8th grade students went to the Tomi Ungerer Museum and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg (MAMCS), to think about the issue “Art and Conflict” and discover new works.
Back in class, the pupils expressed through drawing their feelings about the works exhibited in the museums and described their experiences. The students also collaborated on more complex works, using different mediums and techniques such as painting, collage or photography. These works challenge the viewer and talk about violence, its effects, and ways to overcome it. For example, a photo-novel tells the story of three young girls whose friendship is challenged by the arrival of a new boy.
The students also wrote letters to their American counterparts. They introduced themselves, talked about their passions and told them about their visits.
During the second semester, a new phase of the project began. Another class decorated a mobile booth – a cabin on wheels called “la cabin à paroles”– literally the “talk booth”. They created an “Eslau Voice” logo inspired by the forms of the artist Hans Arp and painted words echoing their visits in the museums. The “Elsau Voice” logo was also printed on t-shirts!
The project took the form of an ethnographic inquiry. The students met the residents of the Elsau neighborhood in order to collect their impressions and memories. Two postgraduate students, one in ethnology, the other in journalism, helped them to develop a questionnaire and to complete these interviews successfully. The mobile booth was used to signal a place of exchange and accommodate the inhabitants. The ethnographic inquiry was also turned into an artistic performance. The cabin was an allusion to the work of artist James Lee Byars and his “smiles cabin”, exhibited in the MAMCS in 2004.
The first interview session took place on Monday, May 28 with nearly 10 students, alongside with their teachers, members of the Educational Service and the two postgraduate students. Although intimidated at first, the pupils managed to talk with the inhabitants of the neighborhood who willingly answered the questions.
On June 6th, another part of the class went to meet the residents. Once again, interviewees responded to the questions heartily, and the students were able to learn more about the history and evolution of their neighborhood. All of these exchanges were recorded by Luc Leroy and Alexandre Alves, sound engineers of the web radio ODC, to make an audio report.
To end the 2017-2018 edition of the “Curating a Culture of Respect” program, the students and their teachers went to the MAMCS to listen to the audio report and see their works, exhibited on this special occasion in the museum. The teachers and the students were very proud of the result.
Then the pupils continued their interviews by asking visitors and museum employees questions about the Elsau district, the museum itself, its architecture and the works on display.
They also took a guided tour of one of the exhibitions at the museum called ExpériMAMCS, which explains, in a playful yet pertinent way, the life of works of art in a museum.