Thomas Hirschhorn was invited by the Laboratoires as early as 2001 to realize a project in the town of Aubervilliers; in the meantime, he installed his studio in the town itself, a decision that conditioned the specific contents of his project, considered as a “neighborhood project”. The project, determined in 2002, planned the construction of a “precarious museum” at the foot of a block of buildings in the Landy area of Aubervilliers. The goal of the Musée Précaire Albinet was to exhibit some of the major works of 20th century art history, with the support of the Pompidou Centre and the Fond National d’Art Contemporain , and involving actively people from the neighborhood in the different phases of the project. This project was based on the love of art and faith in the idea that individual encounters with works of art can change one’s life. The project is the result of the desire to share this faith with people who do not ordinarily have access to these works, for reasons that are mostly social, economic and cultural. This idea of transporting major works and bringing them into a slum, on the capital’s periphery, demonstrated the fact that art is an issue that can concern every single person.
The Musée Précaire Albinet project was busily prepared between November 2002 and the spring of 2004, and took place for twelve weeks (from March 29 to June 18, 2004, including its construction and deconstruction). The construction was achieved with the help of neighborhood inhabitants; it included an exhibit space, a library, a workshop and a refreshment area, in a green space occupied for the occasion.In all, twenty original works loaned by the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Centre Pompidou) and ten limited editions loaned by the Fond National d’Art Contemporain were exhibited, during the eight simultaneous exhibits dedicated to Kasimir Malevitch, Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. Following the active principle of feeling the presence of the works, a different event occurred in the daily life of the place every day : installation of the exhibits, public inaugurations, collective meals and, in relation to each exhibit, conferences by art historians, debates introducing contemporary socio-political issues, arts and crafts workshops for children, writing workshops for adults conducted by writers, as well as cultural outings planned in places relative to each exhibit. This project gathered more than forty inhabitants from the neighborhood, paid for their participation in the construction and operation of the Museum, and also developed a considerable training program addressed to about fifteen people, between 18 and 25 years old, who were particularly involved and had responsibilities in the whole process of the Musée Precaire.
Photograph: Joseph Beuy's exhibition