An inclusive project with an international reach thanks to FRAME

During 2016, the Musée des Beaux-Arts Montréal (MMFA) partnered with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation (MJF) to create a project encouraging intercultural openness and dialogue for young people from Montreal’s Muslim community. Since the beginning, this project has attracted the attention of the FRench American Museums Exchange (FRAME), especially three French museums — the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse, the Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon and the Musées de la ville de Marseille — which were inspired to implement similar programs adapted to their own social contexts. Under the title Pour une culture de l’inclusion : les musées FRAME en action, these projects were featured in a video presented during an exhibition in the MMFA and the French participants traveled to Montreal to showcase a part of their work during the vernissage and a public forum welcoming more than 120 guests on December 10th, 2016, which is Human Rights Day.

© Sebastien Roy

On this occasion, young artists involved in the program The Art of Inclusion from Montréal and France met together. Improvisations of Hip Hop Dance and Slam were made by young French during the exhibition opening and the French choreographer Abdou N'Gom proposed a powerful moment during the forum with dance considered as a language of resistance against exclusion and a tool to define one’s identity.

This project is based on shared values of dialogue, tolerance, inclusion, civic engagement and mutual understanding. It is also in keeping with the museum’s humanist mission to deploy its collection, expertise and facilities to serve the community, with the aim of encouraging dialogue and harmonious co-existence, relying on the role of art as a vehicle for peace and social cohesion.

In Montreal

Thomas Bastien with the MMFA with the participating teens © Sebastien Roy

The MMFA has been a partner with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and the Institute for Research and Education on Race Relations to present THE ART OF INCLUSION. MUSLIM YOUTH TAKE THE LEAD: an artistic project giving ten young people from Montreal’s Muslim community an opportunity to express themselves on their desire to belong and their place in Quebec society by presenting one of their creations. Quebeckers aged 15 to 30 with Arab, Syrian, North African, South Asian and Sahelien roots were invited to speak out on topics of concern to them, social exclusion in particular, in a context where intolerance and Islamophobia and questions of integration exist. The installations, paintings and photographs – by Aissatou Balde, Mercedeh Baroque, Yousra Benziane, Serine Bentaya, Abdelhamid Beniani, Hejer Chelbi, Essraa Daoui, Wurood Habib, Chaimae Khouldi and Zahraa Sbaiti – were chosen by a selection committee consisting of representatives of each partner organization and the artists Mohammed Makhfi and Naghmeh Sharifi, and displayed in the exhibition area of the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy until January 8.

© Sebastien Roy

These young artists participated in the forum The Art of inclusion on December 10th, as well as three young French people: Mohamed Makhlouf from Lyon, Miad Mohamed from Marseille and Sami Saïdi from Toulouse.

In Lyon

Abdou N'Gom in the chapel of the Lyon Museum of Fine Arts © MBA Lyon - photo Stéphane Degrois

The program of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon pairs the Maison de la Danse in Lyon with Compagnie Stylistik. Led by choreographer Abdou N'Gom, whose background is hip-hop and urban dance, this company worked with young high school students from Belley (Ain) on the theme of resistance and youth from the social center in the district of États-Unis in Lyon, long isolated from the rest of the city. Through choreographic expression and observation of works, they call into question their way of being in the world and asserting themselves, even resisting. The aim of this project is to open up the museum to the possible cultural references of young people, primarily immigrants, and to introduce them to other artistic practices as means of expression. The exploration of the complementarity of artistic languages must result in an original work by the young people. This first experience will culminate in a performance at the Printemps de la Danse in March 2017.

In Marseille

Excerpt from the film on L'Art de l'inclusion © Ville de Marseille / Ph'Art et BalisesAll rights reserved

The Musées de la ville de Marseille collaborated with the Association Ph'Art and Balises, which works to keep young people in school and ensure their social and professional integration. A dozen participants aged 15 to 20 visited various cultural sites in Marseille, exploring a number of themes related to the question of citizenship, which is part of the reform of French colleges. The Château Borély, a museum of decorative arts, earthenware and fashion, provided them with an opportunity to reflect on equal rights, social classes and the legacy of cultural heritage as a common good. At the Marseille History Museum, they gained an understanding of the different stages in the construction of the city, which was founded on cultural diversity, as well as exploring the question of integration. A visit to the exhibition Être femme dans la Grèce antique at the Museum of Mediterranean Archeology prompted some participants to reflect on the place of women and their role throughout history, and a visit to the Mémorial de la Marseillaise encouraged several young people to reconsider the French national anthem in light of twenty-first century issues and their daily lives. By compiling the texts written by the young people, the museum ensures it is a place of expression, identification and self-realization for all. These texts, which were read or sung, are included in the video presented in Montreal.

In Toulouse

Sebseb, Sabrin, and Sami at the Musée des Augustins of Toulouse © Gilles Thomat

The Musée des Augustins de Toulouse is involved in countering all forms of exclusion and its consequences. In connection with the policy of the city and associations, the museum reflects on the fight against radicalization and seeks to give young people free expression on the subject. Through its involvement in the Art of Inclusion program, it has been working with the slam poet Sebseb to open up dialogue with young people, fight preconceptions and give them a key to understanding this menace. Their work will be recorded in a music video next spring. There are also plans to present a forum on the question of secular faith and on the religious fact. To encourage the principle of diversity, the Musée des Augustins meets with young people involved in associations such as the Maison de Jeunes et de la Culture “La Brique rouge” in the Empalot district of Toulouse and also involves young offenders with support of the Protection Judiciaire et de la Jeunesse (Judicial Protection of the Youth).