2003 Arrêt Barre Chicago
A multimedia project created for the Biennial of Contemporary Art in Lyons with the collaboration of the inhabitants of the disreputable immigrant suburb La Duchère. Through workshops, installations and documentary movie, it documents the multicultural context of La Duchère and the reactions of residents to the destruction of some buildings following the municipality’s new and unilateral urban planning for suburban areas.
- 2003 France, Lyon: Museum of Contemporary Art

- Inhabitants of La Duchere [logistic and creative support]
- Thierry Raspail [curating]
- Cultural Center La Duchere [logistic and creative support]
- Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art [financial support]
- Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art [technical support]

2003 Arrêt Barre Chicago
Arrêt Barre Chicago
La Duchère is a disreputable immigrant neighborhood in Lyons built under emergency circumstances in 1962 as the end of the Franco-Algerian war brought hundreds of thousands of repatriates back to France. Over the years, La Duchère absorbed all kinds of communities and social classes deemed undesirable (illegal residents, political refugees). It came to be thought of as an infamous, dangerous area, a non-place to be obliterated. In 2000, the municipality issued a GPV, or Great Urban Project determining that parts of the housing blocks in the district would be pulled down. Officially, the authorities presented these urban policies as improving the living conditions of the inhabitants of La Duchère. The eagerness to disperse a population perceived as troublesome and to free up valuable real estate were however part of the municipal decision-making. Although the authorities claimed that fate of the residents was their main concern, in fact the entire urban plan was pursued without so much as consultation with the inhabitants of La Duchère.

From 1999-2000, I was invited as guest professor in Post-Diploma Design at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts (ENSBA) in Lyons. Throughout my year’s residence, I familiarized myself with the city. At the end of the academic year, before returning to Israel, I visited the archives of the GPV, looking for articles and books dealing with La Duchère. Having examined the documentation, I realized that I was interested in elaborating a project there, which would concern a population and an urban fabric that were on the verge of being deconstructed. As is my habit, I became acquainted with this new place by walking around, trying to feel the ambiance of the site, talking to people and documenting with a video camera some of my meetings. I understood that the first practical step was to collaborate with a local cultural center, so I began negotiating with the director of the Maison de la Jeunesse et de la Culture (Center for Youth and Culture of La Duchère or MJC) who agreed to collaborate with me once I explained to him my artistic practice. My project took shape progressively with the opportunity to take part in the Biennial of Contemporary Art in Lyons. My proposal for the project was one of eleven accepted by the Biennial committee under the rubric of Art sur la place (Art in the square/in public space). The basic condition was to stay for six months in Lyons and to work in the neighborhood in collaboration with the community center mentioned above. Each of the eleven artists who participated in the Art sur la place project was given a bus, which the Biennial planned to place in the center of Lyons (Rue de la République).

I arrived in Lyons in June 2003 and immediately established the Memory Laboratory in the MJC, where inhabitants could speak and participate in artistic workshops. It became the first of several (because we opened new laboratories in kindergartens and schools in response to a growing demand). The laboratory/workshop was conceived in two stages. The first consisted of talking and listening during a simple gathering or while painting, or performing. The second step involved visiting the homes of the participants, of entering their intimate space. I asked them to examine and measure the space of their home and to prepare a list of all the objects in it. At this stage I had an idea in the back of my mind of displacing the space of an apartment from La Duchère via the objects that filled it and representing it in the bus. I thought it could be a stimulating initiation for my performance, symbolically to transfer the space of one apartment and to insert in it a film with the oral testimonies of the participants. I met around one thousand inhabitants of La Duchère of all ages in the Laboratories. We spoke mostly in French, and sometimes a little in Arabic. As the conversation developed, we would begin painting or performing. Occasionally we just went outside and walked in the neighborhood in the shadow of the blocks and talked about the environment around us.

After working for a few days we began to hear a terrible noise of heavy bulldozers. The municipality was preparing the implosion of the first block, although people did not know when it would happen, and in fact were as surprised as I. This threat, the noise, the idea that the whole district would be erased, that the end was coming closer, became the main subject of the talks in the laboratory and gave rise to the name of my documentary film: Chicago Bar, (in order to keep the name near the French barre), and this became the focus of the project. The bus would carry out the movement: a double trajectory: from La Duchère to the city center of Lyons and from the city center back to La Duchère. The inhabitants of La Duchère prepared the space of the bus. They measured, constructed, painted and built the installation according to a plan we had conceived together while working on the theme of The Home. We had a huge hangar and the laboratory transferred to the hangar space. Once the work was finished, we drove the bus towards the city center of Lyons and parked in the Rue de la République, on November 15-16, 2003.

The space of the bus was transformed into a flat representing both the space of a standard three-room apartment in the “Chicago Bar” and a furniture van. By making an inventory of the items in the flat, the moment of displacement was frozen in order to reconstruct this precarious situation. Each element of the flat (house furnishings and appliances) was translated into a volume represented by a cube. The inside of the bus was emptied in order to contain the entire contents of the flat and was then invaded by cubes differentiated by a randomly established color code. On several walls of the bus and on some of the cubes we printed sentences providing a variety of insights on migration, extracted from the documentary movie. The floor of the “flat” was expanded to the outside of the bus on an extra surface equivalent to a three-room flat. The part of the architectural plan representing the inside surface was printed on the floor of the outside space since the floor inside the bus was too small. Four seats were placed on the stage facing the bus.

Inside, the documentary movie Chicago Bar was projected simultaneously but not synchronously on three screens. The film condensed the stories of the inhabitants, the stories of the diverse communities of La Duchère, their interpretations of terms such as “neighborhood,” “home,” “displacement,” when juxtaposed to the daily preparations for the destruction of Chicago Bar, the noise of the bulldozers and furniture vans. The inhabitants of La Duchère were present daily at the bus in the city center, speaking about their life with visitors. This physical implementation was meant to enable visitors to confront their stereotypic vision and prejudices toward La Duchère and its population with real stories and the people themselves. It was an immersion within the world of La Duchère, guided and commented on by its inhabitants, at their own invitation, acting as hosts to the people from the rest of Lyons.

Article in L'Humanité 29.3.1999: "Villes Lyon-La Duchère. La barre des 200 bientôt écornée"
Another video showing: "démolition d'une partie de la barre 200." - 9 octobre 2003 (Lyon)