> Can you briefly introduce your association and the organizing team of this year’s Living Museum?
The CRAC (Center for Artistic and Cultural Research) is an association of popular education and cultural mediation. It has existed since 1978. It is animated by a team of volunteers. It publishes for its members, every two months, the letter of the crac: a cultural review of information, criticisms and moods. For many years, it has participated in the annual Dis-moi dix mots operation under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. It organizes regular activities in Seauve in the commune of Arfeuille-Châtain (headquarters of the Association): strategy games, German/French conversation and recently, it initiated and participated in the setting up of hiking trails with a group of inhabitants of the commune. Every year, it offers two lectures (one scientific, the other concerning the protection of nature and the environment) and every two years – a living museum. The cabinets of curiosities is the 6th living museum.
> The living museum, ephemeral and participatory is reborn once every 2 years, where does this initiative come from, for what audience? How do you choose the theme of the museum, which objects, which stories best inspire you?
The origin comes from chance and opportunities: for example, the 1st exhibition “Diary of a Bolivian woman” follows the meeting young woman returned from Bolivia with her son because of the revolution – she proposed us to read her personal diary in public and we completed with an exhibition of object from Bolivia ; the 2nd “Lemon passion” is provoked by the creations of Martine Castello (science journalist, author of the autobiographical novel “Nature morte aux 4 citrons”, 2015) who had painted about twenty almost identical still lifes representing lemons, a research had been made then on this theme. For each theme, the crac surrounds itself with people who are responsible for doing research. This is part of the Popular Education framework. The organizing team (steering group) for this living museum is composed of : Bernadette Méanard (Reterre), Christian Scaramuccia (Auzances), Fabrice Glomaud (Evaux) and Danièle Tamayo (Arfeuille-Châtain). More than thirty volunteers are participating in the operation this year. List of participants – CAB 2021
> This year, the theme is tripartite: CABINETS OF CURIOSITY, MONSTERS AND WONDERS, and BIZZARIES; can you comment on each part, what objects were chosen for each category?
Booths of Curiosity (I quote an excerpt from a presentation) – “Treasure rooms for some, or bric-a-brac for others, they are considered to be the forerunners of museums. In these private places were stored and exposed collections of all kinds, the main criterion being heterogeneity. One could find volcanic rocks, works of art, dragon blood, telescopes or chameleon skeletons! Also called “rooms of wonders”, they grouped almost everything and anything, the idea being to collect and stage the most beautiful and surprising things… We often distinguish two main categories: creations of nature and human creations.”
It’s a joyful mix where science, history, imagination and everyday life are all on the same subject! We visit the exhibition by theme: dragons, mermaids, unicorns… but we also find exotic animals including a crocodile, collections of insects, artists’ creations, souvenirs, objects that we love or forgotten objects that we want others to discover: suitcase of memories of his grandmother or device to make glue with fish bones, a book of autographs, the history of writing reconstituted in a computer casing, filmed performances (a selenite, inhabitant of the moon or the story of a yeti walking in the forest of the moors), a woman with a beard, works of art, books, masks (voodoo, Burmese…). The central space consists of a bestiary: stuffed animals, a crocodile, a giant turtle shell, or in formaldehyde insects and a giant spider. But there will also be wood, stones, books, key chains, movie posters, pictorial stories, photos of cabinets of curiosities…
> How did you organize all these objects? Is there a route to follow? Do you have a guide or a map?
On site, we will welcome visitors by advising them a route (which they will not be obliged to follow), themed spaces are constituted – each day collectors will be present and will be able to answer questions.
> For this year you have chosen a relative theme that sometimes touches personal perceptions. Something strange, original, bizarre to one person, perhaps something ordinary to the other. Where are the boundaries between “weird” and “normal”? When does an object become curious to a visitor?
Everything can seem strange when you don’t know its purpose. The exotic is often strange – it’s up to each of us to decide – children love monsters, we love to scare ourselves. Let’s dream and let our imagination wander, that’s also the purpose of the exhibition.
> Your exhibition, it seems, awakens curiosity, do you think it will push your visitors to personal or even scientific research?
Yes, absolutely. We hope to develop the knowledge and imagination of everyone. The aesthetic side is also important, we also present precious objects, works of art to give the notion of beauty.
<> On Saturday 27/11 storytelling is planned for children, can you give us the details of this activity?
The reading will be done by actress Françoise Defigeas, on Saturday at 4pm – for all children from 6 years old. Everything is free, registration is optional but it allows us to schedule an extra session if needed.
> Can you say a few words about your latest and upcoming project?
Our latest project Train Stories (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) received a passionate response from 400 visitors over the course of a day! That’s why we’re opening two days this year, to allow the public to better enjoy the exhibition.
Next project… we’re not thinking about it yet but as I said before, the origin often comes from chance or opportunity. If things happen, we react, we listen to society and the questions it asks and is asking.
> What do you expect from this exhibition?
Crowds, success, discussions… a day rich in emotions and discoveries and fun for all.