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Pedagogical day #3 - Project « Bridges over troubled waters »

Developing critical thinking skills to understand the world on a daily basis is the mission of our session which aims to understand art through the prism of our values.

Previous sessions have identified the values of our school, but also confronted the values of the individuals who make up the class of 3e/2nde. Our values influence our reactions: the session on advertising showed this clearly. But when the question of art and the artist is raised, how do we react? Between openness and rejection, tolerance and intolerance, curiosity or indifference, the collective reflection starts again.

DAY #3 - "Values in art: can we separate the artist from their work?”

It is a thorny question to know where to place our values in front of a work of art: should we interpret the work in the light of our values? But in this case, we risk limiting our curiosity. If values are a compass to guide us in life, can they also guide us in art?

To reflect on this, three controversial artists are brought to light: Picasso's The Weeping Woman; Polanski's J'accuse and John Lennon's Imagine

Behind the artist, there is the weight of responsibility: Picasso and John Lennon committed domestic violence; Polanski committed sexual abuse. But behind the work, there is also the pleasure I can take in contemplating their works. Between the two, there is the question that we will ask ourselves throughout the session:

" Should we boycott them in the name of our values? - Who is them? The works? The artists? "


It is already a question of distinguishing the private sphere from the public sphere: Johnny Depp, Kanye West, Bertrand Cantat.

An artist can be sentenced like any other citizen. Yet the artist is not just any citizen: they are a citizen who has an audience. The artist is heard, listened to and above all they inspire us, for better or for worse. Several cases present themselves to us and the matter suddenly becomes more complex:

  • Bertrand Cantat can disturb us with his double face because the artist publicly champions values that he does not respect in his private life.

  • Kayne West can make us indignant by the way he uses his public voice.

  • Johnny Depp's highly publicised trial may surprise us, for how can we distinguish between the man on trial and the actor who arouses passions?

To cut the Gordian knot, we acknowledge that these behaviours provoke reactions in us. As with advertising, we react according to our own values. And for artists, there is the question of responsibility. Justice intervenes to sort things out. The students were able to discuss this in the form of an objective and then subjective debate. On the one hand, there is the point of view of the justice system, on the other hand our deepest feelings on the question of whether an artist condemned by the justice system can still practice their art publicly.

*Objective debate: The right to artistic creation, the right of prescription and the presumption of innocence.

*Subjective debate "Should these people be highlighted?

Having mentioned these cases, let us then return to our values, which are reinforced by certain public figures who inspire us. And why only a public figure? There are people around us who inspire us even more. Isn't a parent the artist of his child? There is a nice subjective debate to be launched on this question.


However, values also aim to unite a group. And putting a face to a value is a powerful way to do this. Studying the fan community has given us undeniable proof of this. And on a larger scale, isn't it the same dynamic when we see that every nation has needed its heroes to feed its national narrative and create this unifying dynamic? Nothing better than a visit to the Pantheon to see this for yourself.

"So there are only good guys in the Pantheon? - Would you prefer an objective or a subjective debate?"

All of these topics inspired our students to write a piece of music celebrating our common values!

Charlotte Allamargot, teacher of French, English & Spanish


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