Orange Rouge, or the meeting between teenagers with disabilities and contemporary artists
Orange Rouge provokes an unusual encounter between teenagers with disabilities and contemporary artists through the creation of a collective work. Since 2006, the association has enabled nearly 3050 teenagers to collaborate with 178 contemporary artists, creating 168 collective works, exhibited in 12 contemporary art venues. Meeting with Corinne Digard, founder of this great initiative. An interview with our expert Laurent Issaurat, Head of Art Banking Services at SGPB.
Tell us about the beginnings of Orange Rouge, your personal trajectory and your ambitions at the time of the launch of the association. How was the Orange Rouge adventure born?
I began by studying philosophy, then went to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts of Paris and spent a brief period in advertising. I then developed an artistic practice for about ten years in the form of plastic installations, while working as an artist in hospitals and old people's homes with people suffering from various pathologies, notably Alzheimer's disease. It was a particularly rich context of work and weekly observation, both on a human and artistic level. I experienced over a long period of time how contemporary art acted on these destitute people, in great fragility, at the limit of their resources, of their conscience. We managed to communicate plastically, on the wire, by snatches, a path of luminous and difficult "wanderings"(1), in sawtooth. These sessions brought us on both sides, concentrated, suspended moments of multiple and often positive emotions. At the same time as this striking experience, my plastic work gradually opened up to performance, to staging, became more collaborative and I felt the need to redefine my artistic project. I was invaded by a strong desire for the collective, in all its forms, in a more global vision, not only aesthetic, but more engaged in civil society, which would involve other fields. Childhood charmed me, full of turbulence and fantasy. I had the intuition that allowing the meeting between teenagers with disabilities who are trying to build themselves, in full metamorphosis, and artists who have made their singularities a strength, was carrying infinite richness and a fantastic playground, of experimentation, on both sides. I began to set up a research project with a strong human dimension and my personal research then moved to a collective level. Then, everything followed very quickly, from the first workshops in Paris, with the support of a private foundation, the project then developed in Seine-Saint-Denis and I was able to start building a team and make contact with partners from various fields.
How do the projects work in practice?
Each year we carry out about twenty projects in Ile-de-France. We invite artists to develop a collective work with teenagers and a teaching team over a period of about 50 hours. Each project is unique, tailor-made and develops from an initial meeting between all the actors, taking into account the desires and ideas of each. It can take place over several months or intensively in the form of a workshop, at the school, or relocated outside (in the artist's studio, an art centre, a garden), leaving the school to break away from the daily life and the usual environment of these teenagers and to offer them new perspectives. Each project includes a workshop for the production of the piece, cultural outings and a post-production period. The artist constantly adapts the project specifically to the rhythm of the teenagers and their capacities. At the end of the year, a first presentation of the projects takes place within the colleges, then Orange Rouge organizes one or several exhibition(s), event(s) in a place identified and recognized in the field of contemporary art with the works produced in this singular context. At the moment, some projects are being finalized, among which the one of artist Olivier Jonvaux, who realizes a board game with the young people of the ULIS(2) device of the René Descartes college in Tremblay-en-France. They tie their shoelaces together to make maps, draw clouds, read the future on scribbles. Artist Carla Adra, for her part, on the occasion of the event "La première première fois", on December 10, in the Atelier-résidence of La Galerie, a contemporary art centre in Noisy-le-Sec, invites teenagers from the Françoise Dolto secondary school in Paris, to share their voluminous sculptures in papier-mâché: intimate objects representing their personal stories, their drawings and their music.
For which young people, in which region(s)?
We work mainly with teenagers aged 11 to 16 with disabilities (intellectual, cognitive, behavioural, visual, auditory, autistic deficiencies…) who are enrolled in Ulis, specialised units in secondary schools. Since 2016, we have also been working with Instituts Médico-Éducatifs, where adolescents suffer from more serious disorders that prevent them from attending school in a regular environment. Currently, we work with ULIS in Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis and Seine-et-Marne. These different contexts affect the projects directly or indirectly.
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Photo: Portrait of the artist as a character: "c’est pas moi c’est lui", with artist Raphaël Julliard et teenagers from the Ulis device of the René Goscinnny secondary school, Vaires-sur-Marne, in 2021. ©Nicolas Giraud
Which artists do you work with (type of practice, selection method, etc.)?
Each year I invite a curator to Orange Rouge and we develop a curatorial project. We select emerging or confirmed artists, with diversified practices - films, photographs, digital, installations, performance -, who are sensitive and curious about the project. For the artist, it is not just a matter of doing a workshop, but of truly creating a collective work in collaboration with a group of teenagers. Alongside the artist, they are involved in an aesthetic awareness at first, then in the production of a work or research allowing the artist to create a work with their contribution at a given moment, or throughout the process. For the artist, it is the possibility of taking a step aside from his usual practice, and of attempting this common polyphonic "thing". The work produced is collective. The artist recovers the main piece, or gives it to the school, the teenagers recover certain objects and drawings produced during the project.
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Photo: Outing at the Thaddaeus Ropac gallery, with the artist Mathilde Ganancia et teenagers from the Ulis of the Suzanne Lacore secondary school, Paris, in 2021. ©Nicolas Giraud
Could you tell us a little about the 2021/22 projects?
This year I invited Aurélien Mole as curator. He knows the Orange Rouge project from different angles, as an artist but also as a photographer of the exhibitions. We are going to follow the 18 projects that will start soon between January and June 2022. We already have a title for the exhibition "les à coté.e.s", which will focus on the singular figures who make art an activity among others, rather than the constituent element of their identity. The graphic team Jimmy et Ninon will accompany us to imagine this season's edition.
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Photo: Session in Antoine Medes' multipurpose sculpture workshop, Montreuil, with th duet of artists Louise Aleksiejew and Antoine Medes and teenagers from the Ulis of the Jules Michelet secondary school, Saint-Ouen, in 2021. ©Nicolas Giraud
The Societe Generale Foundation has had the privilege of supporting your association for several years in a row. Who are your main supporters today / have you formed a circle of "Friends"?
A big thank you to the "C'est Vous l'Avenir" Foundation(3) for its support and confidence over the years. Today, the SNCF Foundation, the Milk for Good Fund, the ADAGP, the Saif and the Banque Populaire Rives de Paris Foundation have taken over. We haven't really formed a circle of "Friends", we are still running out of time, but faithful partners are present every year and new "friends" seem to be interested in our initiative.
In a few words, a first assessment and the future of Orange Rouge?
Orange Rouge is rich of all these collaborations which cross and follow each other with time. Animated by the same enthusiasm, we pursue this impulse, this collective experimentation, fundamentally imperfect, but which seems to draw with the acquired experience a fertile furrow, and which seeks and redefines itself tirelessly in the course of the meetings. The year 2023-24 could lead us to new territories of action, between winds and tides.
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Photo: Workshop of the artist Alicia Zaton and teenagers from the Jean Wiener secondary school, Champs-sur-Marne, in 2021. ©Tom Cazin
(1) In 1968, educator Fernand Deligny founded a network for autistic children in the Cévennes. During this experience, he had these children live in an environment organized in living areas (about fifteen kilometers apart) where they mixed with workers, farmers and students. Fernand Deliny asked these adults to transcribe the movements and gestures of the children. Thus, every day for ten years, in each of the living areas, the adults drew maps on which they recorded their own journeys and then, on tracing paper, those of the children (the "wandering lines"). These maps made it possible to identify the overlaps in the children's routes and to study, in particular, the improvements to be made to the layout of the space, the role of objects of use in the children's initiatives, and their participation in daily tasks.
(2) A ULIS, « Unité Localisée pour l’Inclusion Scolaire » // localized unit for school inclusion, accommodates about ten students, supervised by a specialized teacher. It allows for adapted teaching, a special rhythm; some students are partially integrated into their level class.
(3) Ex-"Fondation Société Générale pour la Solidarité".
Main photo: Outing at theThaddaeus Ropac gallery with the artist Mathilde Ganancia and teenagers from the Ulis of the Suzanne Lacore secondary school, Paris, in 2021. ©Nicolas Giraud
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