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Tuesday 04.02.2020

Call for Papers Université d'été de la Bibliothèque Kandinsky

Gordon Matta-Clark, Fonds Biennale de Paris, BDP 135, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Mnam-Cci, Centre Pompidou

Primary Sources at Work: Galeries-anti-Galeries
Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou


Paris, from 1-10 July 2020 Application deadline 08 March 2020

Mica Gherghescu
+33 (0)1 44 78 46 65
+33 1 44 78 46 65

Centre Pompidou
75191 Paris Cedex 04

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The Bibliothèque Kandinsky's Summer University is a Musée National d'Art Moderne/Centre Pompidou research program installed on the very premises of the museum. It focuses on modern and contemporary art primary sources: archives, documentary materials, interviews, records, as well as new forms of artistic appropriation and documentary production. Interdisciplinary in format, the Summer University brings together young researchers: historians, art historians, anthropologists, sociologists, artists, critics and curators who share a collective reflection with art professionals and various scholars around primary source materials. It will be held in one of the museum rooms, around a conference table, used at the same time as a workspace and an exhibition device for the display of documents. Facsimiles, reproductions, and archival material will be unfolded in the space during the working sessions. Several writing workshops will rhythm the program, as well as visits to various documentary collections. Editorial work is at the heart of the Summer University: a new issue of the 'Journal de l'Université d'été de la Bibliothèque Kandinsky'—conceived both as a critical anthology based on the debates during the sessions and as an experimental production—will be released at the end of the session.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Robert Barry initiated a series of conceptual works famously related to Herbert Marcuse and critically addressing the nature of art galleries as sites of both artistic and intellectual production. Galleries were reputedly 'Some places to which we can come, and for a while 'be free to think about what we are going to do.'

Echoing the permanent collection of the Musée national d'art moderne dedicated this year to the 20th century art gallerists, the 7th edition of Bibliothèque Kandinsky Summer University will question the different twists and turns of the 'art gallery' canon. Working across primary sources, it will investigate recent phenomena of galleries and alternative commercial spaces for art and exhibition and implicitly the economic operations they drive.Two main aspects animate the reflection on these multiple 'worlds of art': the first and most common, current art market experiences considerable changes and transformations. Alternative movements sprung that connect in different, innovative ways, supply and demand; new commercial circuits appear; the distribution and visibility of artistic practices are deeply affected and gallerists, mediators and artists reinvent their own economic strategies. Secondly, these transformations epitomize current economic, politic and social mutations and circulations of contemporary societies, where the work of art occupies an ambivalent, complex position, caught between the aesthetic and the commercial product.

The dynamics of French exhibition spaces, with some significant exceptions, stood apart from the high-momentum of alternative spaces, contrary to other creative territories (like Canada at the end of the 60s, alternative New York in–between 70s-80s). The last decade witnesses however a new energy of exhibition sites, connected in a dynamic network, local as well trans-regional, exchanging with international, mobile actors. Histories of taste, logics of collecting, sale-systems, alternative platforms of distribution and exchange, network construction and management, institutional and counter-institutional changes, this new edition will interrogate alternative economies of artistic practices at stake in contemporary structures, as well as their impact placed at a geostrategic level. From Mexico to Istanbul, from Stockholm to Singapore by a detour to Johannesburg, new economic forms of exchange are invented. It is also imperative to imagine and build new tools for analysing them.

The word 'alternative' covers a wide range of meanings. The paper proposals are expected to address the multiplicity of formats and spaces as well as of the promoting figures and players: artist-run spaces, apartment galleries, self-managed and hybrid alternative venues, reinventing and redistributing practices; bookshop-galleries, ephemeral sites and projects, Internet networks, collaborative and community-based spaces. Case studies focused on the 'anti-gallery' profile can coexist with studies on precursory, historical genealogies.

The myth of the 'alternative' needs to be also confronted with the current developments in capitalist strategies. How can we qualify these spaces of 'independence' and the intentionality behind them, implicit or imposed? How do current alternative practices situate themselves in regards to historical moments of institutional critique? How to discriminate the cultures of independent sites from other forms of autonomy current in capitalist entrepreneurship?
Fast transformations are often oblivious of the traces they leave behind. Confronted to this rapid obsolescence, and with the lack of archival material, who will register their activity for future understanding, conservation and transmission? What are the documentary strategies at work to preserve and understand these historical moments?

Interrogating primary sources, the 2020 Bibliothèque Kandinsky Summer University will go back to artistic initiatives that have lastingly transgressed the canon of art gallery starting with the 1990s until the present days and that have provoked new modes of creation, representation and distribution of art. It will also address circuits and economies underlying gallery practices and knowledge production: artists, critical writers, different players; modes of distribution and promotion; collection-making strategies and different platforms going from the private space to public institution and digital wide circulation. Robert Barry suggested in his work the promise of a renewable conceptual framework for art spaces to be. The Summer University will try to draw its inventory.

The Bibliothèque Kandinsky Summer University 2020 will bring together young researchers, curators and artists around documentary material from the library itself—for some part largely unseen—and give its participants the opportunity to put sources 'at work'. It also invites researchers from all horizons to bring up their source material and to put it into debate, through historical, creative and critical discussion.


The Bibliothèque Kandinsky's Summer University is aimed at young fellows (PhD candidates, PhDs, PostDocs): historians, art historians, anthropologists, sociologists, curators, librarians, graphic designers and artists at large.
Application file:
- written proposal (4,500 characters/700 words) either in English or in French, in PDF format.
- CV which should clearly assess the candidate's language proficiency. In order to apply is important to have a good command in both English and French.

Candidates are expected to bring along a selection of sources used in their research.

The proposal dossier will be sent to: by 8th March 2020.

The proposals will be evaluated by a scientific committee, in charge of drawing up the final Summer University program. The Committee will retain 25 projects.
All applicants, whether selected or not, will be personally contacted before March 16th, 2020.

A participation of € 150 will be required from each participant, who will be provided with tuition. The participation will cover transportation on site and institutional entries.
If requested, the Centre Pompidou will be able to issue any required certificate in order to apply for scholarship or funding from foundations, museums, universities or research institutes.

Gallien Déjean, art historian, curator, Ecole nationale supérieure d'arts de Paris-Cergy
Mica Gherghescu, historienne de l'art, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Céline Heytens, archivist, contemporary holdings, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Dominique Liquois, reference librarian documentary and scientific watch, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Yekhan Pinarligil, archivist, contemporary holdings, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Didier Schulmann, conservateur, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

For any inquiry, please write to:

Tel : +33 (0)1 44 78 46 65