At the Hauts-de-France CRP, photography does not lose the North

A 40e birthday, it is worth celebrating. When it comes to the 40th anniversary of the Regional Center for Photography (CRP) in the North, and more specifically in the Hauts-de-France, the event is of particular importance.

The links forged within this art center, between this territory steeped in labor history and the photographic medium, popular art if ever there was one, have since 1982 formed a solid cultural fabric with a collection of more than 9,000 works. “A real treasure”, recognizes Audrey Hoareau, the new director of the CRP. It is worth to this institution, beyond its local roots, an international recognition.

Pierre Devin, a passionate founder

It didn’t happen on its own. It’s a long story born in the wake of the decentralization desired by François Mitterrand when he arrived at the Élysée in 1981. Somewhere near Denain, the Usinor photo-club survives somehow in the turmoil of restructuring and redundancy plans for the steelmaking site. The workers’ epic of the North is already badly bruised by industrial disillusions, between the textile crisis and the mining extinction.

From this photo-club, Pierre Devin will constitute a collective of photographers, thus drawing the energies and the wills to create, under an associative status, the CRP in 1982. Founder, lover of photography and photographer himself, he served as its director for more than twenty years. After a few years in Denain, the center moved to Douchy-les-Mines in 1986 and amateur photo competitions gave way to more institutional orders.

Growing Recognition

The Cross-Channel Photographic Mission, inspired by the construction of the Channel Tunnel, is another essential stage in history which will energize this policy of photographic commissions, between 1988 and 2006. It brings a new dimension to the center since, an essential feature, the commissions dedicated to the territory and the population of the North, once exhibited, also feed a photographic fund which today brings together an impressive number of works. The recognition as an art center labeled of national interest by the Ministry of Culture validates, moreover, from 1991, the enormous work of Pierre Devin and his teams.

The following directors, Pia Viewing and Muriel Enjalran, ensured this line of excellence, with the perpetuation of the art library, created in 1985, developing the principle of loans of works accessible to all, where prestigious names in photography coexist. like Doisneau, Sergio Larrain, Willy Ronis or Mimmo Jodice. The quality of the programming is undeniable and also endures through their desire to mix recognized artists and emerging talents. From then on, the CRP settled permanently in the cultural landscape, whose local identity is accompanied by national and international recognition that is never denied.

An anniversary and a major challenge

The mission entrusted to Audrey Hoareau was by no means obvious. Arrived a year ago, we had to take up the challenge of this 40e anniversary by best honoring the colossal scale of the collection. Impossible to stick to the constrained space of Douchy-les-Mines. The good idea was then to organize, for this end of the year 2022, a multi-site exhibition, made up of a network of exhibition venues throughout the Hauts-de-France region. Then began a joint research project in the collection and another, geographical, on the territory, from Lille to Château-Thierry, to Saint-Jans-Cappel, via Le Touquet or Valenciennes to find the places and exhibition partners.

“We had the resources for that,” reminds the new director, with this photographic collection and the main themes of the collection, work, the border, the territory or the working body. “Everything fell into place quite naturally,” she summarizes.

Result, an offer of sixteen exhibitions throughout the region until the end of this year, crossing photographic genres and crossing eras. Active and educational visits to the exhibitions, practical workshops around the image, discovery of the library and the silver laboratory, today energize the mediation work for young audiences and schools in the region, and complete the picture of activities. from the art center.

“We have to find the public, interest them”

“It is the center’s job to have permanent projects to support creation”, recognizes the director. But this extraordinary collection, which makes its particularity and its richness, brings other concerns with “space issues that we need to resolve”, emphasizes Audrey Hoareau.

It is necessary to be able to exhibit in fairly large spaces, to keep the works in good conditions and to give space to “a fantastic library” of which 20% of the documents are still sleeping in boxes. “Here, we have to manage public transport to bring the public to us, we have to find the public, interest them. » Upstream of mediation, however effective it may be, relay structures, associations, the educational and school environment play an essential role.

A reflection is underway to prepare the CRP of the future, always with the aim of winning over its audiences, welcoming them in good conditions and maintaining the link. The mission promises to be difficult, and the challenges will not be lacking, but the CRP has already faced many others.


A commission for four young artists

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Regional Center of Photography of Hauts-de-France (CRP), and the 10th anniversary of the inclusion of the mining area on the UNESCO World Heritage List, four young artists – Clément Brugger, Isabella Hin, Hideyuki Ishibashi and Apolline Lamoril – have been selected to work in the mining area until April 2023.

This order will be controlled by the CRP until its end, with the support of Drac Hauts-de-France and in cooperation with the City of Electricians.

An exhibition is also organized, in partnership with Diaphane, as part of the Photaumnales, at the Galerie du Chevalet in Noyon.

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Source : BBN NEWS

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