Milano master-class

09. The Negotiation Phase

#lesson5 #towns #gr2013

When we were creating the GR2013, Baptiste Lanaspeze and the artists worked on defining areas and trails that could motivate different participants to tell the story of a given space, while Nicolas Mémain and I got into contact with local authorities, since this trail was up for approval by France’s hiking federation (FFRP) and needed to meet very specific requirements and receive easements and signage authorizations.

We needed to get in touch with all the towns and property owners impacted by the trail.
In line with what Fivos was saying, when you get outside of large roads and thoroughfares, you find yourself in the private lives of small towns, and that changes things. Small towns aren’t always charming. Sometimes there are issues related to developments—a retirement home or a casino, or perhaps a supermarket—and so we don’t always fully grasp what’s going on but there is another kind of relationship that gets forged.

In the case of the GR2013, we were in contact with thirty-eight towns, and each time we dealt with different departments. We worked with departments ranging from urban planning to culture, sports, communications, and tourism. We had to approach things differently each time.

Fivos: I would like to know how you organized your meetings with these towns. For instance, when we start a project in Greece, we go into a café and talk to people directly. It doesn’t matter who. It could be the mayor’s brother, an elderly gentleman who’s been living there since forever, anyone who happens to come by the café that morning. There, you can glean some really good information. You can learn everything you need to know about plans to build a casino, and what not. Usually people aren’t aware of what shouldn’t be shared, so they generally tell us everything. After a couple glasses of ouzo, everything comes out!

Loïc: It was a bit different with the GR2013, since we had to follow a timeline dictated by the European Capital of Culture. It was a race against the clock. It was a project that needed five to ten years, and we did it in ten months—everything, from scouting to signage permits.

The Capital of Culture set the pace. Events like world’s fairs and the like are good for that. We had to be ready by 2013, and so towns that wanted to be a part of it had to fit with the timing. So unfortunately, there was no time to sip on pastis in the local bar.

What motivated people was the Capital of Culture and the artistic vision behind our project. We would say, “The artists have decided to come through your town,” and the towns would say, “What? Our town?” And from there we had to figure out how to negotiate and draw a map over thirty-eight towns.