From one city to another

Centre d’animation St Jean, Villeurbanne, France
Resident artist: Yan Gao

« This project is part of the desire expressed by the Centre of Animation Saint Jean to develop the role of art and culture as social support of the communities, and the intention of the Le Bleu du Ciel (The Blue of the Sky) gallery to reach new visitors far from the cultural offer.

This initiative was also the result of an encounter. Indeed, the Chinese photographer Yan Gao had already exhibited his work called “In transit” at Le Bleu du Ciel, denouncing the housing conditions of foreigners. It is therefore putting himself in connection with his own experience as a migrant, with his personal history, that his project took shape.

In particular, it is in relation to this common sensitivity around the questions of migration and territory that Yan Gao came up with the idea of animating a workshop of photographic practice, with the members of the socio-linguistic course of the St Jean centre.

This workshop deals with two dimensions: memory and the city, starting from the hypothesis that displacement can be a source of creation. Migration can also represent the hope of a better place, where one can put down his luggage and build a new path through the world; to expatriate, to change place, to change one’s perspective. Artistic practice allows this openness, this possibility of joy, this enrichment of the soul, this unexpected radiance that uprooting threatens to extinguish. »

Marie-Jeanne Verneret,
Teacher at FLE (French as a foreign language)

« The theme of the link between migration and creation touches us very much, because the content of the suitcases of those who came to settle in this city, is immense. It goes far beyond their humble personal belongings. It represents the memory of peoples, their wanderings, the paths they have travelled, their efforts to build themselves up. »

Sonia Bove

« This workshop is seen as an experimental act, which means to create a link between the professional world of art and teaching, within the context of the social centre, and to involve “another audience”. These people are foreigners living on French territory. They are often in an unstable condition, but they all have a double cultural experience and very positive expectations of their new city. »

Yan Gao