— The Racing Club de Lens was founded at the beginning of the 20th century, in a local context deeply affected by the coal mining industry. It was first owned by the Compagnie des Mines de Lens, the main mining company, and was later bought by the Communist town council, before being taken over by various private investors since the late 1980s. At first, the R.C. Lens embodied the values of determination and physical strength promoted by management, before representing the spirit of unity and solidarity of the workers' struggle, during its communist time. Following the decline of the mining industry in the second half of the 20th century, a mythology surrounding the club's proletarian origins was gradually constructed. More than thirty years after the last coal pit was closed in the region/area, supporters still espouse this vision.
« Allez le R.C. Lens ! » is the result of Apolline Lamoril’s research into the objects and images associated with Lens supporter culture. She examines the dynamics of institutional and working-class memory at work in supporter culture. The work combines original shots and images collected from supporters. Apolline Lamoril plays with the status of these images and combines different registers. Stickers published at the end of the 1990s depict the joy of Lens supporters when the team was crowned France’s champion in 1998. On the wall, they stand alongside photographs taken by the artist. Captured at the National Sports Museum in Nice, the Lens jackets, flags and pennants have been carefully preserved in neutral, sanitized storerooms. Faraway from the heat and noise of the stadium, the museum's interest in Lens’s culture is, in a way, a questionable devitalization of mining culture, thus bearing witness to an era that is fading away already.

— This project was produced as part of the publicly-funded art commission « En creux », led by CRP/ Centre regional de photographie des Hauts-de-France, with the support of Hauts-de-France region and Mission Bassin Minier.

2024 (upcoming) — « Allez le R.C. Lens », Cité des électriciens, Bruay-la-Buissière
2024 — « En creux », Maison Syndicale des Mineurs, Lens
2023 – « En creux », CRP/, Douchy-les-Mines, cur. Audrey Hoareau.

CREDITS: Exhibition view, « À l’œuvre », CRP/ Douchy-les-Mines, 2023 © Alexis Ouvrier.