January 4, 2011

We wonder at Boom-Wow! what Walter Benjamin would have thought of Bruno Latour, founder of The School of Political Arts. The term of “politicization of aesthetics” would have certainly pop out.

On the other hand, the french philosopher Yves Michaud sees Latour as a artist of a new kind -the producers- and thinks of his school as part of a more general trend of “aestheticization of everything”.

So, is it one or the other?…Well, at Boom-Wow! we think it’s none of the two.

We believe in pragmatism and in diplomacy. Which means today new languages, mediums and forms of communication have to be explored, and new spaces for a political dialog have to be invented. This approach makes Bruno Latour’s initiative very relevant to us.

Sciences Po School of Political Arts

Opening scheduled in 2010 
Founded by Bruno Latour and Valérie Pihet

“This school is not about science, nor arts, nor politics. No matter the initial calling — research, politics, the arts — the task lies in front of these disciplines, it does not belong to any of them in advance. This is why we will be able to host so many different professions and professionals: what they already know is far less important to us than the trajectory that we will effect with them. We will not join science, art and politics together but rather dissemble them first and, unfamiliar and renewed, take them up again afterwards, but differently.” BRUNO LATOUR, Director of The School of Political Arts

The School of Political Arts is the first course of its kind: combining the social sciences, humanities, and the arts broadly considered, breaking down disciplinary barriers, and overcoming the artificial divide between the arts and the sciences, between the academic and the professional. The School is open to young professionals from around the world—academics, artists, architects, designers, curators, journalists, entrepreneurs, etc.—seeking to hone their skill set, advance their academic expertise, or even actively reassess their careers. The school’s aim is to provide artists with a high-level training in the social sciences (methods for empirical inquiry), and, conversely, to confront social scientists and public or private sector professionals with the qualities and methodologies of the arts. These two fields will not be studied side by side; but rather will converge through teaching experiments and an innovative curriculum grounded in common objects of study. The public sphere will be taken as the focal point of this convergence. For, indeed, the question at the heart of this project is the crisis of representation (in the largest possible sense). This crisis can only be overcome by associating three practices of representation that have as yet been relatively separated: political representation, scientific represetntation, and aesthetic representation. The School’s pedagogical program is grounded in project development and production. Participants will have to work in groups on a specific project throughout the year, with a particular emphasis on fieldwork. A considerable number of the proposed courses will be in direct resonance with these projects; the remaining teachings will provide core curricular knowledge in keeping with the spirit of the school.

The main teaching body will be decisively international, composed of renowned artists, social scientists, art historians, and new media theorists, etc. Their contributions can take on a variety of formats and tempos (periodic or regular teachings, from a one hour master class to an entire trimester’s coursework).

Bruno Latour, born in France in 1947, is a sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher of science. From 1982 to 2006, he was professor at the Centre de sociologie de l’Innovation at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines in Paris and, for various periods, visiting professor at UCSD, the London School of Economics and Harvard University. In 2006, he was named professor at Sciences Po Paris and has since become dean of the institute’s Board of Studies. Best known for his contribution to the sociology of science, his fieldwork has focused on the social construction of scientific research. His work has also questioned the exclusive role of “social” materials in the “construction” of scientific facts, overcoming social constructivism with the broader approach of actor-network theory. His most well-known works are Laboratory Life (1979), Science in Action (1987), and We Have Never Been Modern (1991). In 2008, Bruno Latour received the Siegfried Unseld Prize for his lifetime contributions to research. In 2002, he co-curated the critically acclaimed international exhibition Iconoclash, beyond the image wars in science, religion and art at the ZKM Center in Karlsruhe. In 2005, he co-curated Making Things Public. The atmospheres of democracy. In 2007, he was named president of the Fondation de France’s Cultural Committee.



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