Writing the Town
TYPE Teaching residence
DATE 2018 > 2019
PARTNERS Hélène Gaudy, Collège Lenain de Tillemont de Montreuil
FINANCIAL SUPPORTERS Département Seine-Saint-Denis
A Middle School Literature-Architecture Residency
The Seine-Saint-Denis Heritage Department organises artistic residencies in local middle schools each year. In the context of this program, the Montreuil author Hélène Gaudy (Une île, une forteresse, Inculte, 2016. Un monde sans rivage, Actes Sud, 2019) contacted Quatorze to set up a partnership for the 2018 – 2019 school year at the middle school Lenain de Tillemont. Having led several transdisciplinary projects around literature and the city, Hélène Gaudy focused this writing residency on new ways of living in a changing environment. Quatorze co-facilitated these sessions by sharing their field experience in Montreuil and by nourishing a reflection on the approach to the city. The team worked with two classes of students in their last year of middle school, one of which was part of a specialized program in hotel and restaurant management, and horticulture.
The Power of Imagination
Focusing on the school’s surrounding neighbourhood and the Murs à Pêches district, the students wrote about the area using Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a starting point. Quatorze asked both classes to create collages showing the Bel-Air district and the nearby Murs-à-pêches as a hybrid neighbourhood in order to re-imagine their environment. The residency ended in 2015 with a one-day participatory workgroup at the playground on rue Sainte-Antoine. Students from the Pierre & Marie Currie University joined to help clean-up, set up a mini-Matrioshka, plant flowers and vegetation, and paint signs and a mural to embody their collages. The experiences showed these young people that they have the power to act in their own environment. The final day of the residency took place during the middle school’s art day where the students read their texts publicly and each received a copy of the small book they produced.