The second residency and workshops took place from June 13 to 17, 2022. On the first day, we went to pick-up wood pallets in two locations that had accepted to give us some: Trévie / MIN and a local private company. These were for Giacomo Mezzadri. His initial plan was to order some steel structures to ironworkers in order to put woods on these supports, but it was way too expensive… Having no choice but to abandon this idea, he had to think of another way to transform these pallets into scenography elements that could also be used as street furniture – such as bench and tables.
Some volunteers were supposed to come and take part in these wood-pallets transformation workshop, but no one showed up. Only Mamadou Wane. This man was probably one of the most important person that we met during the whole residency. He’s a Mauritanian migrant, who arrived in Saint-Chamand just a few months ago. So, as he was waiting for his residency papers to be (hopefully) accepted, he had not much to do during the days and was therefore really happy to take part in the project. So, with the help of Mamadou, Giacomo began to dismantle the pallets… After a few days, they had managed to construct a structure that looked as small stairs, with 3-steps, that could be used as a stage, a bench or a table. In short, something that would be useful anyway, anyhow.
At that time, we had no real dedicated space but a small blue room that was lent by the Social Center La Fenêtre, within the Ludothèque. A good place for the artists to work, since one of the door opened on the garden where the performance would take place in July. So, this is where Giacomo had settled.
On her side, Balkis Moutashar had a few planned workshops with small groups. Her artistic purpose was to extract daily gesture from their usual context to make them choreographic. On the second afternoon, as participants cancelled, she was alone with Rayna. Since Mamadou was also around, she proposed to make a workshop for just the two of them. Turned out they formed a fantastic duo.
Back in April, we had met some bodybuilders who had their own gestural routine in the C.O.S.E.C (Complexe Sportif Évolutif Couvert) of Saint-Chamand. So, on Tuesday 14th, Balkis met them there, directly at the gym, thanks to Jefel Goudjil. Momo Ouasti was the oldest and wiser, the one we had been in touch with since he already took part in a Centriphery project (Désormais si Proches) a few years ago. The other young guys were a bit shy, but took part in the exercise as well. Naturally, their gestures were totally linked to their lifting weights routine, that they would approach all differently, but that could each become a dance by transforming speed and rhythm.
The days after, Balkis led a workshop in Saint-Ruf’, with a dancing team of young girls: the Sunshine Crew, that we met through Amel of Génération Sports, and also with women from the dance school DO-IN. Alongside, she conducted workshop with babies and parents taking part in the Montessori program, but also with kids at the childcare Quatre Saisons. This naturally consisted in very different exercises but she was always sharing her art with patience and passion.
In between, she also went with Céline Alba, who’s in charge of the costumes’ stock of Opéra Grand Avignon and selected a few for the potential dancers.
Setting up her artistic process around these dancing workshops, Rayna Teneva focused on visually recording the details. She decided to film people’s movements, close-up, to extract abstract and aesthetic images out of the bodies. She took care of filming with a high frame rate, in order to transform her rush in a beautiful slow motion.
She also had the idea to add kind of flags to the scenography; which became a collective process with Giacomo. He indeed had the wish of designing some that would represent the neighborhood. Somehow, the flags of Saint-Chamand. He had minimalized specific shapes that he had seen in the area, such as the balconies, to make them appear on these flags. This was something important to discuss together. The flag meeting was really a turning point. We had heard from Lahouari Azzouz, the family referent of the Social Center, that some women often came at the Ludothèque in order to sew. He had given us Drifa and Chantal’s phone numbers. So, we had contacted them to join the discussion. Caroline Clerc, educational coordinator from La Mission Locale came by with a young volunteer from Atelier Métissé; an associative and collaborative textile studio located in the surrounding neighbourhood…
So, we got together to exchange about how to embody these bicolor flags. The fabrication process, how to cut the shapes, how to assemble, and who will, etcetera. Drifa, Chantal and another woman that came by were asked the color they would choose to represent Saint-Chamand. They chose pink. So, let the base be pink. And the shape on it’ll be white.
For the fabrics, the volunteer from Atelier Métissé said that they had a lot of second-hands options at their place, and that we were welcome to come by and visit. So, at the end of the week, together with Drifa and one of her friend, we discovered the colorful Atelier Métissé, hosted by Tanguy. There, we began to rummage to find pink fabrics. Not enough. Then, Tanguy said that they could maybe tint the fabrics, and came out with big ones that were printed with Jules’ commercials. That was it. We had found the pink solution. And to actually make the twenty-two flags with the shapes on it…? “No problem”, said Tanguy, the women can come here and we conduct the workshops and show them the technics. That was something…
Besides, Julie also had proposed the idea of bringing food offering at the end of the performances, to make these shows collective sharing moments… She knew a certain Amada, a Comorian, a very good cooker, that we wanted to meet. She contacted him and he actually proposed to cook a meal, not for the shows, but for the artistic team… Which we couldn’t refuse, right? So, during the week he brought a delicious meal, that was actually cooked by his wife.
In the meantime, Fred Nevché had collected poetic sounds and atmosphere. He really is a daily-life poesy lover. His plan was to create the “summer hit” of Saint-Chamand. Every day, he would hum us a few potential chorus… He led a writing workshop with women from Soif d’Apprendre who wrote strong and beautiful poems. He did register some, knowing that it would be – somehow – useful. He also conducted interviews with the people that we had met: Mamadou, Momo from the powerlift group, Amel from Génération Sport, Amada – the Comorian cooker and other people from the neighborhood that had accepted to tell him their stories, their relationship to the neighborhood… He was planning on mixing them with the songs that he would create. In order to do so, he would escape in his world. Collective creative process is also about understanding each one’s rhythm, each one’s needs…
At the very end of the week, we met all together, with the artists, Marie Julie and I, to talk about the evolution of the project and what was left to do. Giacomo still had to create the sewing patterns for the flags and many other questions were still remaining: who will do the food offering, how to project the videos Rayna made…? Also, she did screenshots of her videos and wanted to print them on fabrics. These would need some more wood structures…
Well, there were still a lot of work to be done.
Text & pictures by Céline Delatte