Les Prolégomènes, Day 2 - Workshop n°3 "Knowledge and know-how?", October 4th 2013, Lafayette Anticipations, Paris

Workshop n° 3 – « Knowledge and know-how? »

Led by Mathieu Mercier, with Jean-Pierre Blanc, Rémy Héritier, Marjolaine Lévy, Christine Phung, Emanuele Quinz and Jerszy Seymour.

« To this day, a rigid distinction persists between knowledge and know-how, mirroring the historical separation of applied arts and fine arts. This persistent dichotomy keeps us from understanding or recognizing the various, specific types of knowledge and skills required by contemporary art and design.

For a fresh look at these issues, we may want to summon cultural anthropology and explore, as William Lhamon did (1), the kind of knowledge that would arise from multiple exchanges among places, conditions and individuals. This knowledge would, at its core, consist in disseminating techniques and gestures, images and signs, so that they might be produced in new territories, but also to share them with groups that may wish to use them for radically different or even contradictory purposes. Indeed, all knowledge implies a way of disseminating it, or passing it on. This, however, can only apply to contemporary art and design insofar as we throw off yet another straitjacket: the relegation of skill to a marginal role in art, in favor of the pure enjoyment of forms. Any creative artist does practical work, and his or her practices involve a community of techniques, gestures and persons, making any creative act a collective act.

Artistic work is thus more appropriately defined in terms of the network of heterogeneous knowledge and know-how – skills, craftsmanship, techniques and technology – which it helps create at all stages from the design and production to the manufacturing of objects. Empirically prioritizing the practical aspects of an artist’s work over formal considerations is not tantamount to rejecting aesthetic concerns, since art can only materialize through the inventiveness and achievements of such knowledge- and skills-based communities.  »

Mathieu Mercier

1. In Raising Cain, his book about Blackface.
Les Prolégomènes, Day 2 - Workshop n°3 "Knowledge and know-how?", October 4th 2013, Lafayette Anticipations, Paris
Les Prolégomènes / Knowledge and know-how? Workshop #3