Office National de Diffusion Artistique

Office National de Diffusion Artistique

Journal#2 - Capdenac
4-5 octobre 2023
Along the GR 65 walking trail

The event was called “Habiter les paysages habités”, or “Inhabiting inhabited landscapes”. (Its title drew some wry remarks, but let’s leave that to one side for now.) The first day was spent traveling, both on foot and by bus, along the GR 65 walking trail, to see the artwork/refuges built for the project “Fenêtres sur le paysage” by Derrière Le Hublot - a government-backed, off-site, regional performing arts association. 

Work: Pecten Maximus/Sara de Gouy - © DR

Journal#2 - Capdenac

Along the GR 65 walking trail

By Marie-Pia Bureau, Director of Onda

On the Causses du Quercy plateau, Fred Sancère, the director of "Derrière Le Hublot”, outlined his project while standing in front of “Super-Cayrou”, an artwork/refuge consisting of dry stone tents by the architects’ collective “Encore heureux”. Entitled “Fenêtres sur le paysage” the project focuses on the concept of territory: its meaning, component parts and inherent issues. Later, as we visited other works, we heard from various people involved in bringing the project to life: volunteers, local mayors, regional park directors, landscape experts and artist/designers. It was a Wednesday and here and there curious onlookers inspected the works. They were mostly locals - families out for a walk, residents showing the occasional visitor the landmarks of their village and some travellers with large backpacks walking the Way of Saint James. We enjoyed hearing people explain each refuge in their own way: proof, if any was needed, that in this territory, the works have been fully adopted by the locals. Hardly surprising when you look at the process that produced each of these refuge/artworks. “When we work within a territory” Fred Sancère tells us, “the artistic concept is never fixed until we have considered the local landscape, its culture and traditions.” Sometimes it takes four years of meetings, discussions, explorations, negotiations, calibrations, deliberations and various adjustments before a project can come into being. Furthermore, in the case of towns with a population of around 300, this project was often the major financial investment of the local government’s electoral term. Each work was conceived by an artist, but entailed the cooperation of a wide range of people, each of whom helped to shape the final product. Strolling along the GR 65 walking trail, in the bucolic atmosphere of that sunny day in early October, we were able to experience the multitude of encounters that make up a territory and the benefits of cooperation appeared bright and clear.

© DR

The next day we were back indoors, talking about the concept of territory from a more theoretical perspective. A few key points stood out: how working in and with territories necessitates longer timescales, how cooperation requires the ability to let go and improvise, to experiment without preconceived ideas, to forgo always having your own way, to leave space, and even make space, for others. We have not been taught or encouraged to work in these ways, but everyone present agreed that these approaches would lead to better outcomes. One participant added, “sometimes we get sick of hearing all of these “co”s bandied around all the time: co-construction, co-this, co-that.  And yet, if we want to break out of the narrow paths and systems we’re stuck in and go beyond individual interests and competition, there’s no other way, is there?”. Cooperation is therefore a guiding principle that can help us out of the rut where many in the performing arts feel trapped. Cooperation is a means of gathering together the multiplicity of view points needed to anchor a work to its context: what some not so long ago would have referred to as situation.

And to come back to the event’s somewhat insistent title, it was important for us not to forget that no territory exists ex nihilo, but is always created by its human and non-human inhabitants. A reminder that struck some as a platitude and others as a fresh perspective.


Podcast in French 

“Sur les chemins de Capdenac”
Take a journey to the territories along the GR 65 walking trail
Geographer Luc Gwiazdzinski gives us his impressions of the day. 

This episode features Luc Gwiazdzinsk, geographer and expert observer for the event “Habiter les paysages habités” (Inhabiting inhabited landscapes). An event that took place along the GR 65 walking trail starting from Capdenac, on October 4 and 5, 2023. The event was followed by a working meeting organised by the Cultural ministry's General directorate of artistic creation and the network of government-backed “Arts en Territoire” performing arts hubs. 
Luc Gwiazdzinski gives us an uplifting and reenergising recap of his spontaneous impressions of these two days, weaving together notions of “territories”, adaptations, initiatives, commitments and peppered with inspiring ideas.