Centre d’animation St Jean, Villeurbanne, France
Resident artist: Justine Verneret

« It is only when embedded into a network of relationships, that photography can produce educational effects and generate artistic approaches. »

Alain Kerlan

The “Identities” project was made possible thanks to funding from the “Culture-villes-quartiers-projets culturels intégrés” (Culture-cities-neighbourhoods-integrated cultural projects) and the support of the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs Rhône-Alpes (Drac Rhône-Alpes), Ministry of Culture and Communication.
This introductory photography project was carried out as part of the linguistic socialization workshop at the St Jean Animation Centre in Villeurbanne.

In residence one morning a week for three months, the photographer met with a group of nine trainee-participants of foreign origins, learning the French language, with the aim of developing a photographic project with them, around the notion of identity.

The program made it possible to combine three axes: an artistic experience, a cultural opening organizing visits to photography exhibitions, and a practice of the French language around themes that are usually little explored by these audiences.

These workshops achieved different objectives:

  • To educate participants to a theoretical understanding of the image, through an awareness of the history of photography, the analysis of the image and of the artistic process, and an introduction to framing; more generally to a personal and considered artistic practice.
  • To initiate these people into a process of research and reflection, by encouraging them to question the different representations of their identity. The third objective was the attempt to create links between the members of the group,
  • to put the participants in the position of actors, by producing a series of images and setting up an exhibition in an enhancing space, the Villeurbanne cultural centre.

Equipped with their own cameras, each participant’s gaze wandered over the course of the weeks, declining the various forms of identity with inspiration and sensitivity; from social identity to individual identity, from cultural identity to administrative identity, navigating between public and private space, exploring their environment, their real or imaginary boundaries.