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Author(s): Mathieu Le Barzic et Didier Pidoux
Contributor: Les Nouveaux Commanditaires / CAUE 22

Art, architecture and social ties in rural areas

From 2002, the programme of new patrons of the Fondation de France launched, through the intermediary of its mediator Eternal Network, a programme of accompaniment of art projects in Côtes d’Armor in partnership with the CAUE 22 within the specific context of the department’s rural territory.

These projects fall into the continuity of the general intention of the Foundation’s programme, such as it was implemented by François Hers in the early nineties, making use precisely the identical protocol associating patrons, mediator and artist within the framework of a long process to respond to society and culture issues.

Yet, the emergence of these projects, identification of the commission, places where they are inscribed are marked by the specific CAUE action with small rural communities. In this sense, they also encompass questions of heritage, architecture and landscape and have allowed to realise singular artworks and architectural projects within the context of a rural territory in crisis.

Between 2002 and 2004, seven projects were completed in five rural communes. Four were completely finalised whilst three constitute veritable architectural experimentation:

Tadashi Kawamata, Memory in residence at Saint Thélo – Mémoire en demeure à Saint Thélo (2003-2006); Claude Lévêque, The house where I grew up in Plougonver – La maison où j’ai grandi à Plougonver (2006-2010), MataliCrasset, The “Blé en Herbe” school in Trébédan – L’Ecole « le Blé en Herbe » à Trébédan (2006-2014).

These three projects lean on an existing built heritage and are made up of an assemblage of architectural elements. Their implementation within the framework of the project of the artist required the competences of an architect (Mathieu Le Barzic) and all the interveners related to building operations.

Above and foremost, they result from a strong mobilization of local players (as the sponsors) in the revalorization of their quality of life and the trust they placed in these innovative projects.

The specific relation binding the players around these projects confers them a particular consistency on the territory. The own actors’ play characterising new commissioners (sponsors, mediator, artist) is completed here by an upstream action of the CAUE and the support of the general council to valorise small heritage.

Throughout time, a consensus emerged, based on the principle that the methodology of the protocol of the new patrons found its pertinence in these actions of valorisations of the built environment in a rural community. Objectively and after realisation, these projects are situated in the very field of architecture although they had been associated to an artistic process. The initial artistic questioning developed in a vital social and spatial reality takes form in a collective synergy on the realisation of these new community living spaces.