Call for papers: International Colloquium "Arts Contemporains & Anthropocène"


Saint-Etienne, France

The art of our time is singularly porous to societal issues. Theorists such as Hal Foster have detected a "return of the real" in contemporary art - which breaks away from the formalism and purism of Modernity to favour the creation of works inhabited by a desire for understanding and reflection on the world. In his writings, the artist Allan Sekula defends the development of an art that is anchored in political realities. This is a "turning point", which can be explained in various ways, but which theoreticians agree that it reflects a concern about the evolution of our societies; the fears expressed in this way concern, to a large extent, what has been called since the 2000s "the anthropocene".  

This international colloquium will aim to examine the ways in which works of contemporary art - be they plastic, photographic, cinematographic... or literary - think about the changes in the world that motivate the growing use of the term "anthropocene". Far from works that show a romantic fascination for nature close to its original state or productions designated under the expression "ecological art" by Paul Ardenne, it will be a question of taking into consideration works that work to problematise the evolutions of our lifestyles, to analyse their obvious shortcomings and are actively involved in the debates of our time, through modalities that are specific to them. The way in which art can become a specific tool for understanding and analysing the dysfunctions of today's world will thus be studied.

1/ In the current period, art and investigative journalism sometimes tend to merge into hybrid forms (which concomitantly exploit the resources of the book, the web or the exhibition). Mathieu Asselin, Ignacio Acosta or Guillaume Herbaut thus propose real investigations, made of still or moving images and texts, which contribute to denouncing the misdeeds of industrial exploitation methods, unreasonable uses of technology or the disastrous consequences of the liberal economy, according to diversified modalities. Such work is likely to subject the notion of the "anthropocene" to critical reflection and thus has a speculative dimension.

2/ Partitioned scientific approaches have shown their limits (Bruno Latour, Edgar Morin) and the faith in an all-powerful and objective knowledge has today been eroded. Some artists today engage in post-disciplinary or "undisciplined" forms of enquiry (Stéphanie Solinas, Camille de Toledo, Mathieu Pernot) which come to question the methods traditionally used in the field of human and social sciences. From then on, art presents itself as a laboratory for the production of knowledge and a place for epistemological reflection, far from limiting segmentations, in a desire to grasp the complexity of phenomena. It also tends towards a democratic opening of the construction of knowledge.

3/ It is also the singular relationship with time - linked to the anthropocene - that some contemporary artists come to examine, sifting through the current propensity for a generalised patrimonialisation and its methods of implementation (Bruno Goosse). Natural disasters are also the subject of discussion and questioned by today's artists. Some of them, following in the footsteps of Robert Smithson's work or writings, question the mechanisms of entropy (Michel Blazy). Others question the possibility of the emergence of new utopias (Camille de Toledo).

4/ At the same time, many of the projects explore the possibility of another relationship to "nature" and the "living" - one that would be based on a new or rediscovered collaboration (Andy Golsdworthy, Olafur Eliasson, Gilles Clément, Tomás Saraceno). At the antipodes of established dualisms and hegemonic positions, new modalities of respect and reciprocity are outlined (Jean-Luc Mylayne).

5/ Relationships with others are also questioned by certain current artistic practices, as the word is given to various people who contribute through their words to the very elaboration of the works (Hortense Soichet, Marie Preston...). The artist therefore becomes a relay for the spoken word, refusing any posture of power, in the service of reinvented social relations. Thus are new political forms sketched out?

Proposals for contributions should be sent before 15 January 2021 to:

They should include
- Name and surname
- The e-mail address
- A bio-bibliographic record of 1,000 characters maximum
- A title
- A summary of the proposal with a maximum of 3,000 signs

A response will be provided by the Scientific Committee before the end of April 2021.

The programme will be drawn up by the end of May 2021.


Elisa Bricco (Université de Gênes)
Yves Clavaron (CELEC, UJM)
Valérie Disdier (École Urbaine de Lyon)
Simone Fehlinger (ESADSE - CITÉ DU DESIGN)
Fabrice Flahutez (CIEREC, UJM)
Georges-Henry Laffont (ENSASE / EVS)
Philippe Kaenel (Université de Lausanne)
Vincent Lavoie (UQAM)
Stéphane Lemercier (ESADSE - CITÉ DU DESIGN)
Michel Lussault (École Urbaine de Lyon / EVS)
Danièle Méaux (CIEREC, UJM)
Jean-Pierre Mourey (CIEREC, UJM)
Rodolphe Olcèse (CIEREC, UJM)
Olga Smith (University of Warwick)
Alexander Streitberger (Université catholique de Louvain)

(CIEREC-UJM, ENSASE, ESADSE, Projet A.R.T.S, EUL, Université de Gênes, Université catholique de Louvain)

Lieven Gevaert Centre
KU Leuven, Faculty of Arts
Blijde Inkomststraat 21 pb 3313
B-3000 Leuven

Lieven Gevaert Centre
UC Louvain, Archéologie et d'histoire d'art
FIAL - Place Blaise Pascal 1 bte L3.03.13
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve