Article 28sculpture for public space - 2016
cross of 6.50 m high, made of planks of douglas screwed, stone base and lettering on altuglas
Seeking a definition of the term of "laïcité à la française" (French secularism), I've decided to read the French law of 9 December 1905 on the Separation of the Churches and the State.
By discovering its Article 28 that prohibits putting religious symbols or emblems in public space, except for a few specific exceptions, I first became aware that our crosses along country roads or at intersections of local roads date all, in principle, before 1905, because the law clearly states: "It is forbidden, in the future". These crosses are all remnants (of survivors?), sometimes restored, venerated, but never newly erected.
Then I realized that our cemeteries that bear a cross on top of their front gate, must, since 1905, being neutral and have a lay input. Indeed, the exception to the prohibition concerns only "burial grounds in cemeteries," space that could be described as private, but not the cemetery itself, nor its enclosure, which are spaces public.
Finally, by finishing reading the article, I stayed dreamy face to the exception for "museums or exhibitions" ... So I've imagined to install in public space a work consisting of a monumental cross , accompanied by a small stone base receiving the text of Article 28. I've noted this project in my notebook and named it "ARTICLE 28".
Few years later, for his exhibition path "art and heritage", Chemins d'Art en Armagnac invited me to visit Condom, order to create there a monumental work in public space. It was winter, soon Christmas. I crossed the Gers countryside, thinking of the sick livers of ducks, admiring the old crosses on roadsides and listening to the radio the polemical debates asking whether the Christmas cribs are religious symbols or traditions popular. Indeed, it is important: if they are "simple" folk traditions, then Article 28 of the French Law on separation of Churchs and State prohibits in no way to install a Christmas crib in the enclosure a town hall, on the contrary, it is completely forbidden.
By visiting the Salvandy Centre, famous in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for its Oratorians College (Catholic congregation), became communal school, public school and now headquarters of social services and many associations, ARTICLE 28 came back to my mind and I saw it there. Then I proposed the project to the team and they said yes.
The Cour Salvandy is a passageway crossed by a "path". On one side of it, we drew up a monumental cross of six meters and fifty high, constituted by an assembly of Douglas planks screwed together. On the other side, like a memorial stone, we put a stone base with a plaque with the text of Article 28 of the 1905 Act.
Click here to view photos of the construction and set up of the cross.
For more information on the law on the Separation of the Churches and the State:
- current official version of the full law (French)
- texte complet de l'article 28 - Légifrance
- article on Wikipedia (English)
- La Séparation, historical film about the parliamentary debates in 1905 (French)
design and construction > Arno Fabre
wood > Scierie de la Lèze - Lézat sur Lèze
masonry and horticulture > Technical services of the town of Condom
stone base > Marble Lartigue - Condom
panel and lettering > Gascogne Enseignes - Condom
production and diffusion > c15d
Article 28 is commissioned by Chemins d'Art en Armagnac, with the support of Lycée Bossuet - Condom.