THE MISSIONS OF AN ART CENTRE
The mission of the Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry - le Crédac is artistic programming in the field of visual arts. Thought and organised as a place of production and experimentation for French and foreign artists, it favours the sensitive encounter between the public and the works. Events open to all audiences are organised for each exhibition.
Crédac’s programming reflects the diversity of current practices: painting, photography, video, sound, graphics, sculpture, installation, performance.
Created in 1987, Crédac moved in 2011 to the 3rd floor of the “American” building of the Manufacture des Œillets, a jewel in the crown of Ivry’s industrial heritage. This brick and steel building, built in 1913 on the American model of the Daylight Factory, with clear, modern forms reminiscent of the Chicago School and the Bauhaus, is one of the earliest examples of functionalism in France. Its all-glass façades establish a continuum between the city and the exhibition space. The historical and plastic strength of a place as well as the memory of a territory are decisive for many artists today.
This building is faithful to its original function: a production tool. It houses a creation and production workshop, a place dedicated to artistic practices and meetings with the public, as well as free access to documentation and a bookshop.
But Crédac is not defined simply in terms of square meters. It is a place of intellectual, critical and technical companionship for creators. It is a program that questions our society and responds to the critical sense of a curious public. It is an artistic and cultural project supported by public and private partners, accompanied by a committed board of directors and designed by a professional team known for its willingness to clear the ground and give artists the opportunity to expose their critical and sensitive positioning.
In September 2018, Crédac was awarded the label “Centre d’art contemporain d’intérêt national” (Contemporary art centre of national interest) by the Ministry of Culture.
- CLAIRE LE RESTIF — Director-curator
Claire Le Restif has a degree in art history. In 2003, she became director of the Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry-le Crédac.
Between 2002 and 2018, she organised several exhibitions abroad, including the Smack Mellon Art center in Brooklyn, the Kunsthalle Palazzo in Liestal, the Kunsthaus Baseland in Basel, Attitude in Geneva, the Kunstverein in Nurnberg, Akbank Sanat Center in Istanbul, Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. In 2005 she curated the Altadis Prize in Madrid and Paris. In 2008 she set up Royal Garden, an online curatorial project on the Crédac website. She installed Crédac in 2011 at the Manufacture des Œillets in Ivry. The project developed with the creation in 2016 of the Crédakino, a space dedicated to video, and in 2019 by an artist residency.
Among the exhibitions she has organized at Crédac are the first solo exhibitions in France of Leonor Antunes, Liz Magor, Ana Jotta, Friedrich Kunath, Bojan Šarčević, Alexandra Bircken among others.
In 2019, she is curator for the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard Prize. She regularly publishes texts and is invited to sit on various juries and boards.
From 2015 to 2020, she has been an associate professor at the Master “Contemporary Art and its Exhibition” of the Sorbonne-University.
- JEAN-DENIS FRATER — Administrator
After studying art history (contemporary art, architecture and industrial design) and language sciences (semiotics and history of photography) at the University of Lyon, and after a first work experience in art publishing, Jean-Denis Frater obtains a MA in museum studies and cultural projects management also from the University of Lyon.
He then spends several years as coordinator and co-curator at CAIRN, an art center in the Southern Alps in Digne-les-Bains. He subsequently was the curator for contemporary art of Annecy’s Musée-Château, education and documentation manager at CIAP on Vassivière Island, where he initiated the European project ARTools, and education and cultural program manager at Cneai in Chatou.
Secretary General of TRAM, the contemporary art network in Paris and its region since 2014, he joins Crédac in August 2018.
- JULIA LECLERC — Mediator
After earning a degree in art history, Julia Leclerc graduated in 2007 with a master’s degree in conservation and diffusion of contemporary art at the Université Paul Valéry of Montpellier. She integrated the visitors departments of several cultural institutions, such as the Domaine départemental de Chamarande, the Pinacothèque de Paris and the Abbaye de Maubuisson before joining Crédac’s team in November 2012.
- SÉBASTIEN MARTINS — Head of Production
Sébastien Martins post-graduated from a professional master in curating at the University Rennes 2. He worked in Marcelle Alix and in Palais de Tokyo before joining Crédac’s team in October 2014.
- ANA MENDOZA ALDANA - Head of Communication, Publishing and Curatorial Research
After studying history and art history at the University of Strasbourg and Paris IV - La Sorbonne, Ana Mendoza Aldana joined the galleries Triple V in Paris, then Air de Paris, in Paris and Romainville. At the same time, she worked as a curator and art critic with exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2013), La Générale en Manufacture in Sèvres (2014), Les Bains Douches in Alençon (2018), Palette Terre in Paris (2015), as well as at Triple V (2016) and Air de Paris (2020). She has been part of the Crédac team since November 2020.
- MATHIEU PITKEVICHT — Head of the Bureau des publics
After earning a MA in Arts and Digital Technologies at Rennes 2 University in 2008, Mathieu Pitkevicht has worked at the crossroads of education, contemporary art and cul-tural events. Following his experiences at Palais de Tokyo, the Laboratory Cambridge and at Monnaie de Paris, he joined Crédac’s team in May 2017.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Martin Bethenod — President
Managing Director of the Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection.
- Paula Aisemberg — Treasurer
Director of artistic projects for Groupe Emerige.
- Antoine Goudet — Secretary
Former director of Information Services, City of Ivry-sur-Seine.
- Jeanne Brun — Director of the Exhibitions and Events Department, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF).
- Clément Dirié — Editorial Director of JRP|Editions Publishing and curator.
- Valérie Mavridorakis — Professor of Contemporary Art History at Sorbonne University.
- Olivier Michelon — Chief Curator at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
- Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza — Artist.
HISTORY OF THE MANUFACTURE DES ŒILLETS
THE AMERICAN BUILDING
The red-brick building, constructed in 1913 on the American model of the glass-and-steel “daylight factory”, resonates with the clear strong signal of a decisive proposal, namely to provide workers with the light and air they needed to maintain their own health and effi-ciency. Both bold and strict in its appearance, the four-story building, which is completely unobstructed on the inside and enclosed behind floor-to-ceiling windows, also displays “avant-garde” ambitions, i.e., the will to abandon an industrial architecture dictated by re-gionalism and savings in terms of costs, in favor of a more international construction that boasts clear, modern lines reminiscent of the Chicago School and Bauhaus.
FROM THE MAISON BAC TO THE MANUFACTURE DES ŒILLETS
There lies a complex genealogy behind the Manufacture des Œillets common name in French (in English the building’s name would be simply “the grommet plant”). The origins of this genealogy go back to the figure of Guillaume Bac (1809-1884), a worker who founded in 1836 a workshop that turned out penholders, pens and inkwells in Paris. Around 1856 the Bac family settled in Ivry; the factory remained in Paris. In 1890 Guil-laume Bac’s son Charles broke ground for the construction of the Ivry plant. The main hall and the caretaker’s lodge date from this period. The hall, made of brick and millstone grit, is supported by a long-span metal framework. The building’s entrance is surmounted by a sculpted pediment with a clock. In 1895 the plant employed 245 workers and produced penholders and metal grommets.
WHAT ARE THE GROMMETS?
Grommets are metal rings that serve to reinforce holes in cloth or leather and can accom-modate a lace, cord or rope. The kinds turned out at the Ivry factory were used in the production of corsets, shoes, labels and tarps, as well as military and industrial equipment.
In 1899 Maison Bac merged with Compagnie française, a firm that manufactured metal pens in Boulogne-sur-Mer. In 1904 penholder production was transferred to Boulogne while grommet operations remained in the Ivry factory, which was definitively called the Manufacture Française d’Œillets Métalliques, or French Metal Grommet Factory. The plant was well equipped at this time with an impressive number of machines, notably fifty-seven vertical presses and thirty-five screw presses for stamping and cutting out grommets.
A AMERICAIN FACTORY
In 1905 the Manufacture des Œillets became a subsidiary of United Shoe, an American multinational corporation that manufactured machines for the shoe industry. Expansion of the Ivry plant quickly became a necessity since the building no longer corresponded to modern production standards. The project was put in the hands of the engineer Paul Sée. Ground was broken in 1913 for the tower overlooking the courtyard and the first six spans, or sections, of the so-called “American” building. That building would be extended to rue Raspail in 1924. It is similar to the United Shoes parent factory in Beverly (United States, 1902-06) and its Canadian subsidiary (Montreal, 1911). In particular, the workshops occupied four unobstructed floors while the facades are almost entirely made of glass. However, unlike the Beverly factory, built with reinforced concrete, the Ivry plant has a metal framework with brick filling. Functions not directly related to production were located outside the workshops in the tower, which housed the stairs, changing rooms and bathrooms. This spare, unadorned architecture, entirely subservient to production requirements, remains one of the first manifestations of functionalism in France.
HIGH POINT AND DECLINE
In 1923 the workshops of the Manufacture Française d’Œillets Métalliques were moved to new premises—since razed—at the corner of rue Truillot. In the now freed main hall United Shoe set up the Turner Tanning Machinery Company, an American subsidiary that produced tannery machines. In 1935 the three establishments covered 86 000 m2 and had nearly 600 salaried employees.
United Shoe brought to France the paternalistic methods that had already been tried and tested in Beverly. In 1930, for example, Father Garin, a local columnist, noted that the firm’s employees “enjoy notable advantages thanks to the good social works that the com-pany has created for them: workers’ gardens, mutual insurance system, compensation fund, a head-of-household pay differential, and finally a very substantial retirement pension plan since it is equal to the worker’s salary.” Nevertheless, strikes were called in 1934 and 1936.
During the night of 26 and 27 August 1944, the Manufacture was hit by bombs and a side façade of the main building collapsed. In May 1968 “MFOM” and the United plant were occupied by protestors. The 1960s and ‘70s saw environmental concerns come to the fore. The growing numbers of inhabitants in the area led to the end of certain dangerous types of production; petitions from riverside residents also decried the odors and fumes coming from there.
Under the aegis of Emhart and later Black & Decker, MFOM continued to diversify in the 1980s and ‘90s. The company was producing and distributing automobile rivets, television terminals, small pieces for electronics and home appliances—and the famous molly bolt, which makes it possible to securely fasten things to hollow walls between studs.
CLOSING THE PLANT AND RECONVERSION
The offices that are accessible from 31 rue Raspail were bought up in 1988 by a collective, which installed artists’ workspaces. The part of the site now known as the Manufacture des Œillets was acquired in 1989 by a former architect, Eric Danel, who established a multidisciplinary cultural venue there. The venue’s opening in November 1995 was marked by a revival of Bernard-Marie Koltès’ play Dans la solitude des champs de coton, staged by Patrice Chéreau for the Théâtre de l’Odéon.
In 1996 the main hall, the American building and the caretaker’s lodge were added to the supplementary list of historic monuments. Jacques Doillon and Raymond Depardon have also worked at the Manufacture des Œillets, which closed in 2001. Since then the ground and first floors of the American building have been home to the Advanced Professional School of Graphic Arts and Architecture of the City of Paris (EPSAA), which trains graphic designers and architects’ assistants. Crédac moved to the third floor in 2011, followed in 2016 by the Théâtre des Quartiers d’Ivry - CDN du Val-de-Marne, which inaugurated a new theater space in the “French Hall”.