It all started decades ago, the first time I read François Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel. The text worked in my mind for a very long time until one April day in 2005 I knew I wanted to make a video out of it.
Many thoughts later, I was looking for a French class of twelve-year-olds to play with me. And I found them: March 2007. Their teachers were enthusiastic about the interdisciplinary project I proposed and the experts I called, a food historian and some scientists, were happy to work with us. Researchers were involved because Rabelais was a doctor, not only a revolutionary writer, and I wanted to help science vocations in my pupils giving them a state-of-the-art view on food and nutrition, beside the historic and literary point of view.
We had monthly lessons and lectures plus visits to Parisian historical museums and gardens. Together we established our phonetic version of Rabelais' lists of food and dishes, after I had discussed it with an expert of the ancient French pronunciation. In the ironic spirit of Gargantua himself, I added new modern words to the list of medieval ones, giving the soundtrack a contemporary feeling. By May 2008 I had recorded the soundtrack and filmed my video version of Gargantua and its making of. In the following months I edited them and wrote the story of the experience, in French and Italian: different languages, different points of view.
Next, I was invited to work with them for a follow up in 2008-2009: a project on Gigantism. I was totally free to suggest my themes and chose to work on languages and relativity: giant or dwarf, it's always a matter of scale and perception. All year long, we worked in Trois ateliers, three workshops, each hosting a teacher giving depth and knowledge to the research I suggested. More were contributing on the side. Excellent teamwork, I enjoyed every lesson.
If at first I just wanted to have the opportunity to make my videos, in the actual everyday practice I discovered I could be an agent provocateur of thought. In the end, I believe that I managed to make a new kind of social art: what's more socially useful than helping young people to think?