Alberto Velasco

An exhibition organized by patients and caregivers in Paris

By Alberto Velasco

On 2016, Sainte Anne Hospital Center starts a fruitful cooperation with an institution holding 15 Parisian museums. (Paris-Musées)  Not only psychiatric patients have the possibility to access to all of these important institutions. Hundreds of artistic workshops have been held since in one or the other sites and a collective fresco was painted in our hospitalization unit.

Furthermore, since October 2018, we have worked on a brand new experience: La Maison de Victor Hugo, a most important Parisian museum accepted to have an exhibition organized by patients and caregivers. This very ambitious project permitted 13 of them to work with a curator and a member of cultural projects having the total freedom to choose masterpieces of art held by Parisian museums.

Two workshops had work in this program: writing and selection of paintings. Whether should announced the fact that it was mental health beyond this official exhibition, the group decided to create a collective avatar named “Lucienne Forest”, to be a fictive curator. This made a double effect: hidden behind “Lucienne’s name” everyone was able to work and advance easier. But, since, Lucienne becomes an object of multiple issues in the inclusion of Parisian patients programs. Opened on February the 17th, it has been a successful exhibition by it’s new staging and conception.

Besides the  benefits for patients and caregivers, "Lucienne" uses both: cultural tools to tame with everyone’s own personal problems. But further on, "Lucienne" assumes the right to contribute to a new form of a contemporary humanism by a destigmatising and refreshing way to considerer her.

Sharing at the WACP congress this unique experience may contribute to create elsewhere an easy yet innovative way of working with art’s power on wellness.