Archives Jean-Jacques Mathieu

Adventure Playground of the Résidence in Belfort

Adventure Playground of the Résidence in Belfort
Jean-Jacques Mathieu’s Archives (1975-1985)

« The Adventure playground is a space: delimited, freely accessible, open to all, transformable, enriched with various materials, where tools are offered, where one can make a fire, where one can make noise, do nothing, take risks 1» .

For a decade, young people from Belfort had access to an area of one hectare within the new Residences district, after fifteen years of construction (1958-1973) due to the post-war housing crisis. Actual city with 13,000 inhabitants, the district had to be structured in terms of popular education, entrusted to the Centre départemental d’action culturelle. Drawing on the experience of the adventure playgrounds then being developed in the Paris suburbs and in the Netherlands, the Belfort’s one was set up on a patch of grass made hard and dry by construction machinery. But the creativity of the project leader, Jean-Jacques Mathieu, (whose photographic archives are presented in 19, Crac), together with the energy of his partners and the children, transformed the place into a convivial space for intense experimentation: «we chat, we knit, we tinker, we exchange, we weave, we cook, we barter» 2. In the light of these slides and other documents joyfully collected by Jean-Jacques Mathieu, the city is once again revealed as a laboratory of experiments, made up of improvisations, composite communities, a web of social relations and affects that influence its uses. It reflects both the failures and the successes of our attempts to live together and constitutes a fertile and ideal playground for the exploration of collective creative dynamics.

So, all poetic hypotheses are permitted. «Why not transform useless streets into playgrounds? 3 », the art centre into an amphitheatre, the city into a sandbox?

Adeline Lépine

Soleil Mort & Mini Reich (Dead Sun & Mini Reich)

Alongside the Terrain d’aventure archives, discover a selection of films from the Ciclic - Centre-Val de Loire collection made by Marc Guétault with his class from Jean Macé primary school in Chinon.
Diuration: 48 min / Super 8 digitised.
A selection by Frédérique Barré with the complicity of Radio Minus.

In the early 1970s, a primary school teacher, Marc Guétault, affiliated with the Freinet movement, explored the idea of animated film with his classes and made twenty-six films with them. Pupils were given the opportunity to invent and create, but also to discover all the tricks, gimmicks and basic techniques of animation and filming. Pixilation, cut-out paper animation (photos, drawings) and live action are experimented with in background an apocalyptic Third Reich, a dismembered princess, a dying sun, or a “social housing that doesn’t make sense”.

  1. The ten commandments of the Adventure playground are quoted in the leaflet published on the occasion of a series of events organized by Oïkos Jacques-Brel neighbourhood house and the City of Belfort in January 2020.
  2. Op. Cit.
  3. Louis Kahn and Oscar Stonorov, Why City Planning is Your Responsibility, New York: Revere Copper and Brass, 1943.

Infos utiles

Curator of the exhibition: Adeline Lépine

The archives of the Résidences adventure playground had been produced and collected by Jean-Jacques Mathieu, who ran the playground from 1975 to 1985.
The exhibition of the archives of the Résidences adventure ground in Belfort was made possible by the generous loan of part of Jean-Jacques Mathieu’s collection by Mrs Mathieu-Droz and the City of Belfort. Special thanks are due to Myriam Huré who produced the souvenir leaflet of the adventure playground presented in the exhibition.

Download the press release

Télécharger le cahier des expositions

Photo A. Pichon / Le 19, Crac
Photo A. Pichon / Le 19, Crac
Terrain d’aventure des Résidences à Belfort, 1975-1985. ©Fonds Jean-Jacques Mathieu.
Films Freinet - affiche Yassine de Vos