This call for contributions relates to our [FIC·ATT] (“fiction” and “attachment”) workshop that will take place at Sciences Po, Paris (56 rue des Saints-Pères, 75007 Paris), on the 18th June 2014, 9.30-17.30.
Our aim with this workshop is to organize a “diplomatic negotiation” in the sense that this term can be given within the framework of Bruno Latour’s recent book, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. This is a unique book: it comes not only from a long line of individual and collective research, but also, and especially, from a diplomatic proposition directed to all those who could be called ‘activists’ for certain ‘modes of existence’: could the disputes about what is real, that lead people to deny the reality of other modes of existence, be peacefully resolved? And this within a time-frame of some urgency, that of the ecological crisis, which forces us to reflect in a concrete way on profound changes to our future modes of living?
The book thus functions as a kind of provisional report that must be submitted for ratification to the ‘activists’ for each mode. On the AIME site www.modesofexistence.org you will find a an introduction to this project, as well as the attached text, drafted by Patrice Maniglier, specifically in order to address the questions this negotiation will pose for us.
You are invited to contribute as ‘activists’ on behalf of one or another mode. More specifically, the meeting on the 18th June will be addressed to two modes of existence [FIC] for ‘fiction’ and [ATT] for ‘attachment’. The job will be to highlight the controversies that proliferate around questions of art and economy as a field of observation that can capture or detect the differences between two modes of reality, which we are equally attached to, and which we want to be able to make compatible, but which until now have been described in such a way that conflict between them is inevitable.
Basically, the hypothesis is that behind the notions of “art” and of “economy” a difference between the distinct modalities of existence is at work, which traverses rather than delineating them. Bruno Latour suggests calling them, in his book, “fiction” [FIC] and “attachment” [ATT] (this last term corresponds more to the regime of merchandising than to the field of the economy as a whole, which is traversed by two other modes of existence, “organisation” and “morality”. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this workshop, we will lean more towards questions of consumption than production or distribution, so we will be more concerned with what Latour calls attachment). But words matter less here than problems. Our problem is to know:
if the polemics and the awkwardness that underpin the relation of art and the economy gain anything if we approach them as ontological conflicts, that is to say as the effects of the movements of reciprocal derealisation that one notes between artistic practices and market practices;
if the conflicts can be resolved when one requalifies the beings in play in the artistic practices and the market practices in terms, respectively, of ‘fictions’ and ‘attachments’ (assuming that these ways of being real are not intangible facts, but historical inventions created by the “Moderns”)
It is not a matter of knowing if these terms correctly describe existing realities, but if they are acceptable for the activists for these modes (which the participants should be for the purposes of the day). So we will not be putting Bruno Latour’s theses “to the test” but rather setting up a space in which we will endeavour to see the fine-grained contrasts between the existence of consumer goods and the existence of works of art, so as to draw out their qualities.
To bring this enterprise to a successful conclusion, we suggest working though cases. Perceiving a fine-grained contrast means choosing situations in which it becomes difficult to make out the difference between two modes of existence (in other words, cases with some controversy), but in which it is nevertheless both necessary and possible to rediscover differences. For example, the manner in which people speculate on art works, or market them, or even how they appropriate them, does not line up with that of other “merchandise”. This disturbance is the trace of artistic existence in the mercantile existence, and following it as closely as possible allows us to understand better what qualificative contrasts can be found in the being of goods and the being of art works. In like manner, we would like to have testimonies or analyses of what is specific about collectors’ practice that is different from other practices of acquisition.
Here is a list of the themes on which we would like to have contributions (each of these contributions could either be a testimony or an “analysis”, but by analysis, we have to insist, is a way of making an ontologically engaged voice heard):
analyses or testimonies of instances in the history of art, or in contemporary art in which artists seem to render their most cherished practices indistinguishable from market realities, but in the next moment subvert them and bring out the maximal contrast (cf. Pop Art practices in particular).
analyses or testimonies in the history of art, or in contemporary art of artistic practices which attempt the opposite, to entirely remove themselves from market forms (cf. certain conceptual practices).
analyses or testimonies of collectors’ practices in their problematic relations with other acquisition practices.
analyses or testimonies of practices of merchandising of works of art, in galleries or in auction houses (are works of art objects of marketing like anything else)?
analyses or testimonies of instances in which “activists” for merchandise appeal to artists to bring merchant realities into existence, while at the same time remaining conscious
SUBMITTING A CONTRIBUTION:
Deadline for submission of empirical document: 1 June 2014
Notification of acceptance: 4 June 2014
AIME is an experiment with disciplines and genres. The scholarly text itself is an anchor for a series of other elements that make up an extended book. We wish to use the multimedia platform to encourage contributions and to select the contributors who will attend the workshop. To submit a contribution, please have a look at our website www.modesofexistence.org and make use of the tutorial at www.modesofexistence.org/tuto-contribution/.
We think that contributing on the platform will enhance the collective dimension of the experiment. If any difficulty is encountered during the contribution process, we will obviously also accept more standard ways of applying to join the workshop. We will accept submissions of contributions until June 1. We will send notifications of acceptance by 4 June at the latest.
Please write to patrice.maniglierATgmail.com and contactATmodesofexistence.org for more information.
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) as part of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC Grant ‘IDEAS’ 2010 n° 269567.