Call for Papers | Bibliothèque Kandinsky Summer University, 2-13 July 2018

Call for Papers: Primary Sources at Work. Artists’ publishing practices: from the studio to the library (and back again)

Deadline: March 4th, 2018

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 (both written and visual), 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.

“Everything in the world exists to end up in a book.” Stephane Mallarmé’s famous words have lastingly marked the experiments with as well as the research on artists’ publications, inspiring definitions, appropriations, and modes of activation. In an extended attempt to draw the borders of these particular genres, Ulises Carrión once remarked that “artists have started publishing books and magazines, distributing them, managing galleries and other art centres, organizing cultural events that involve various media and specialized professions. In other words, they have abandoned the sacred realm of art and entered the wider, less well contoured field of culture.”

For this, its fifth session, Bibliothèque Kandinsky’s Summer University will address the plural phenomenon of publishing in the art field in all its diversity. It will seek to capture the various networks, exchanges, contexts, and the multiple geographies that inform the creative decisions at stake in this variegated production. It will also echo the recent reflections on the status and evolution of the artists’ book caught between the imperatives of digital turn and alternative editorial strategies, and discuss the contours of an extremely versatile genre. Indeed, artists’ publications resist any restrictive classification, as one can’t help but notice, amongst their specificities, the formal singularities and unremitting ingeniousness of their varied production methods.

Flexible in nature, artists’ publications and editions will be confronted to different approaches: history of the book, media studies, visual communication theories, graphic design… Rather than fixing a dynamic field, these disciplines have opened up new fields of investigation, dealing with production methods and exhibition strategies, amongst other examples. The communication proposals will have to address the very multiplicity of formats, techniques and mediums that are essential to the art of publishing: artists’ books and periodicals, fanzines, underground production, multiples, photobooks, architecture books, catalogues conceived by curators, ephemera and hybrid editorial practices, digital experiments, e-books by artists, DIY and self-publishing. Cases studies are expected on historical productions, producers and/or institutions, while alternative propositions are welcomed, dealing with the positions artists can take—notably as publishers—, their editorial practices, as well as the complex status of printed matter in art, in relation to the different artistic and technical cultures which are negotiated on the very body of the book.

From underground engagement to patrimonial status, the Summer University will address the circuits and economies at stake in artistic editorial practices. What are the tactics of content production that are mobilized? What kind of creative writing is invented? What kind of bibliographical description could appropriately be envisioned? How knowledge production circuits (in the academia or the arts) affect the published object? How to work with economic risks and market pressure? What kinds of education and pedagogy inspire—or are inspired by—editorial creativity? How to consider authorship when books constantly play with their self-referential nature, and are at the same time the products of collaborative efforts? What kind of “collection-making” for objects that move merrily between the library, the museum, independent spaces and their digital avatars? As Carrión has left to imagine, the artists’ publication is often just a small fragment from a bigger picture. As a space for political engagement and social agency it is also a space for drawing the possibility of collective construction. How do these practices inform artistic creation itself, beyond the editorial field? What kind of critical interpretation do they suggest?

The Bibliothèque Kandinsky Summer University 2018 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.

Please email a proposal dossier  by 4 March 2018.

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 16 March 2018.

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.


Aurélien Bernard, bibliothécaire en charge des imprimés contemporains, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Mica Gherghescu, historienne de l’art, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Stéphanie Rivoire, conservatrice des fonds et collections, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Didier Schulmann, conservateur, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Benjamin Thorel, historien de l’art, École supérieure des Beaux-Arts de BordeauX/fondateur de Section 7 Books / After 8 Books

For any enquiries please contact the centre.

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

Bibliothèque Kandinsky

Centre Pompidou, 75191 Paris