For one week in May 2012, during the “Détour de France”, Collectif Etc was invited by “Les Saprophytes” to create an installation on a heap in Henin Beaumont, in the very north of France. This was a highlight of a larger project, led by the “Saprophytes”. They are conducting an urban study over several years to offer inhabitants the possibility to rethink and to actively appropriate public spaces in Henin Beaumont. The aim of this particular one-week project was to invite people to the top of the heap for a new view of their city and to imagine its future.
The heap is a mountain of black mine tailings, forming a 1000-square-metre wasteland above the city. This place is really out of this world and so we decided to name it “On the moon”. During the one-week workshop we carried out two types of activities involving local people: construction and a short film.
We started by building the “moon base” represented by two geodesic domes designed by the “Saprophytes” team. Once the domes were built, we started to occupy the moon and we spent the whole week on site, eating, sleeping, working and debating. At the same time we created a rocket’s “launching ramp” in order to climb up to and descend easily from the moon. The temporary ramp was very helpful for elderly people and children, as we wanted to enable all people to access the top of the heap in a playful way, to spend time together and talk.
These installations served as a scenography for the short film we conceived and produced in parallel. The story is based on the tale “Jean de la lune” written by Tomi Hungerer. We shot a wide range of scenes on the heap and in the city, created all the “special effects” ourselves and involved people in the shooting to embody “Jean de la Lune” and play their own roles. This short film was a useful tool for meeting people and involving them in general reflection on the city’s public spaces.