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Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Translating Factory at the Language Cafe Special this Saturday

This Saturday I will be at the Language Cafe with the "Translating Factory" where we will be translating people's answers to the "What do you love ?" questions in as many different languages as we can. Bring your dictionaries !

We are delighted to invite you to our Language Cafe Refugee Week Special this Saturday at the Forum.It will be a special extended version of the Language Cafe where we will highlight some of the more unusual languages spoken among our community. There will also be a ‘Language Cabaret’, a barbecue and music in the garden. Please see the flyer below for full details."

Monday, 20 June 2011


Today I have been offering a mini photographic studio space to a group of women, mainly from Eritrea (Africa). Every Monday, they come to St Paul's Church and leave their children at the Nursery for a couple of hours to study English and do some other activities. I shared the workshop with my friend Mirela Bistran who was showing them how to make some cake decorations.

I had planned a "high tech" interactive installation, for them to be able to see themselves in a TV monitor while taking the pictures. I wanted to offer them a private space to take self-portraits while having control over their own poses. Something similar to my own self-portraits in mirrors. The main idea for me here was of "self-empowerment" : giving them the intimacy of a space and time where to feel confident enough to choose poses and select the images of themselves that they prefered.

One side of the installation, the other being a tripod with the photo camera.

The technical side of the installation was actually a bit ambtious for a first workshop and I ended up in the photographer's role. However, the idea of an enclosed and private space prooved to be necessary as some needed their friends not to be watching them.

It was the first time that I was in the role of a photographer with model. It was a bit intimidating for them and for me and they were a bit shy at the beginning. They were chosing their poses and I was turning around them, taking the pictures. Then we had a look at them together and they deleted a couple. I was very pleased with their reactions : they seemed to be surprised of the results, in a very positive way ! as if surprised to see themselves beautiful ! It was very rewarding.

It is not often that we get to be given beautiful images of ourselves and that was the point of this workshop for me ....

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Mongolian is RRRReally Harrrrd !! .... for a French person ...

Working at a commissioned sound piece for Solo Art, Solo Heart in July.
In collaboration with the Language Cafe, I have asked people to answer the questions from "What do you love ?" in their language.  They help me to practice. The final piece will be my voice saying people's answers in different languages.

James here is helping me practicing with Mongolian ... with great patience and perseverance !!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Most recent statement for "What do you love ?"

What do you love?

Ongoing interactive installation from 2002 – present

This work has been shown as an itinerant, ever-growing interactive mobile in which people can step in and write their answers to those questions:
what is the most important … date, person, object, place in your life? What do you love?
Participants can also write in their mother tongue if it isn’t English.

More than 200 people have already taken part since 2002. Already about 15 different languages: English, Welsh, French, Portuguese, Kurdish, Jamaican patois, Catalan, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Thai, Japanese.

Another part of the work consists in the never-ending translation of each single paper (individuals’ answers); each paper is numbered, the answers typed and then translated in as many different languages as possible. It takes the shape of a booklet. This work is not presented here.

“I am currently working collaboratively with the Language Café in Nottingham toward the production of a sound piece for Solo Heart Solo Art at the Nottingham Contemporary in July. The sound piece will consist of the artist trying to say people’s answers to the questions in different languages.” CSD

 Piece commissioned for Common Ground, Stoke-on-Trent, 20
 Taken part in Staffordshire University Diversity Award, 200
- Project having been conducted in different venues since 2002: Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme (New Vic Theatre), Stafford, Hanley Park.

Story of the work

“This piece started when I first arrived in UK, from France, in 2002. I was feeling very isolated and frustrated by the barrier of the language. As an art student, I addressed this issue by going to people and asking them to answer a couple of questions on a piece of paper (what are the most important … date, person, object, place in your life? what do you love?). Over the years, it became an ever-growing, interactive and itinerant mobile.”

“I consider this project as a spiritual piece. I see it as a continuous attempt to look at what people have in common, beyond cultures, religions and languages. The time when you read other people’ answers and when you write your own is a time of reflection and sharing. The papers chosen* are usually used for different rituals in China and other countries but similar practices can be found all around the world in various religions or traditions: Ex-Voto in Catholicism, Wishing Trees, Ema (Japan) …”

*Hell/heaven money, ghost or spirit money, Joss paper

On show at the Central Library 1st floor - Nottingham

I have been invited to take part in an exhibition for the national Refugee week, along with other artists.
I am very pleased to have the piece shown in a library where people already read, write, day dream, think ....


First images of the installation at the library

Monday, 6 June 2011

COMMON GROUND event - June 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 11:00am - Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 4:00pm
Location: Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

Common Ground is a weekend long arts event in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent, organised by AirSpace Gallery Studio Artists. The project invites the public to discover art works hidden and placed in the city park. The art works work with the historical and physical reality of the site, and set out possible future visions for a public park in need of activation.
Common Ground has been commissioned in response to a recent public consultation project, Quality Streets, where the public expressed a desire to see activities and events taking place within the park.
Common Ground will see artists intervening in public spaces; loudly, quietly, secretly or overtly, in a manner which questions the use of public parkland in the 21st century. The works will last the weekend, be sensitive to the place they are situated, and offer opportunities for delight and magic in the city.

Events include:

Saturday 26th June:
11.30am - Brian Holdcroft sets off on his walk from Stoke Railway station.
around the bandstand -
12pm - Discovering the Green Man, A workshop for children and families with Kate Lynch
2pm - Audley Brass Band repopulate the bandstand
Sunday 11.30am onwards - David Bethell's durational performance 'digging'
4pm - celebratory picnic and rounders game (weather permitting)
Details about the Artists' Projects:

Phil Rawle turns a tree into a giant sundial with his Sand Drawing.
Bernard Charnley’s piece finds politicians up to their necks in it.
Andrew Branscombe‘s interactive musical sculpture references the human life of the park.
Kate Lynch asks the public to look out for the elusive and enigmatic character The Green Man.
Monument sees Stuart Porter drawing attention to features of the park that are more usually overlooked.
Katie Shipley explores the physical processes of memory through drawing and sculptural intervention.
Anna Francis excavates the Park’s Halcyon days, connecting to the history of a once great city park by repopulating the bandstand.
David Bethell will be undertaking durational performance ‘Digging’ between 11.30 am and 4pm on Sunday.
Glen Stoker uses the Pavilion to investigate levels of Political commitment to urban regeneration.
Carl Gent aims to consult the public on his campaign to Twin Stoke-on-Trent with a distant cosmic body.
Celine Siani Djiakoua’s participatory piece asks park users to consider poignant questions, and connects to the multi-cultural side of the Park.
Nickie Brown’s signs aim to directly address the public, testing reactions and responses to requests and orders.
Marc Tittensor’s stick men delight and amuse, and reference the Park as a destination for Play.
Chris Parkes has created a series of sculptural objects that reference the furry and feathered inhabitants of the Park.
Michael Branthwaite’s sculptural piece provides visual sensation through colour and form.
Ben Faga’s performances and installations bring animals from around the world into the Park.
Brian Holdcroft draws a physical line that denotes the body passing through space and across time, when moving through this historic site.
Andrew Jackson will negotiate chance meetings with park users, aiming to capture these moments for others to discover later.
My Dear Tom is a mysterious and anonymous sound piece by Emmie, from a Postcard sent in 1907.

What do you love ? Interactive installation in Hanley Park - July 2010

More to read HERE

“What do you love ?” - Common Ground Commission Proposal - 2010

Proposal for Common Ground

Hanley Park is, on a multicultural point of view, one of the richest places in Stoke-on-Trent. Certainly much more than a dozen of different languages can be heard there. The Shelton area has a highly diverse community: Asian resident community, International students, European and East European migrants, asylum seekers from various countries and now families who have become residents in UK. Opposite the park is also the Cauldon College where a lot of foreigners go to improve their English when they first arrive in Stoke-on-Trent. This is where the idea and the first trials of one of my works started, in 2002, when I first arrived in UK, coming from France.
This piece is an interactive and progressive installation called “What do you love ?”. It consists in a circular portable mobile : from the outside, on hanging pieces of papers, people can read what answers have been given to the questions* and from the inside, they can individually write their own answers.
For Common Ground, I would like to invite the park users to take part in this piece in their own language but I also would like to start the 2nd stage of the project, which is the translation of each single text into as many languages as possible, turning each single paper into a booklet. Some of the translation could be done in collaboration with translators from the Stoke-on-Trent College (about 8 different languages).
There are two sites I am considering because of their circular shape : the bandstand or the “little feature originally from the Garden Festival 1986” (in Anna’s blog). In the bandstand, the mobile could be hung in its middle and tables and chairs arranged around it for people to do translations. The other site could be used as itself to hang the pieces of paper, covering the entrances.
There are many interesting sides to this work : the recognition of people’s different cultures, the sharing of an emotional content which is discovered as universal (for many people, the most important person is their mum), the necessity of one common language to communicate (here, it is English) …

“What do you love ?” has already been shown at :
Burslem College (2002),
Staffordshire University (2003),
New Vic Theater (2004),
Stafford Campus (2005).
*who is the most important person in your life ?
what is the most important place in your life ?
what is the most important object in your life ?
what is the most important date in your life ?
what do you love ?

work as presented in Stafford

Actual structure in Hanley Park

Proposed idea