Le Journal des Laboratoires is a free publication that makes visible the research processes of projects hosted at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers. This format also allows a critical support and an extensive diffusion of the projects throughout their process of development.
Edito of the Journal des Laboratoires 2014-2015 by Alexandra Baudelot, Dora García, Mathilde Villeneuve
THE WORK IS PRODUCTION IS EXPERIENCE
Never work! The Situationist command that served as the banner for the Printemps des Laboratoires showed the way both for our research in 2014 and in the design of this journal. Strangely this phrase still resonates today in the artistic environment in France, shaken by cultural policies that are a mix of interference and progressive disengagement. After the calling into question of the status of part time performance workers (intermittents du spectacle), it is now the turn of art centres and theatres to be threatened with closure (the CAC in Brétigny, Les Églises de Chelles, La Panacée in Montpellier, l'École des beaux-arts de Perpignan, the Forum du Blanc-Mesnil, the Wharf in Normandy, Le Lieu Commun in Toulouse… the list grows longer by the day). The arguments that justify this eviction – elitist, useless, demanding (which has clearly become a bad word here) art forms that are expensive vs popular art (or even populist) which should meet the “expectations” of the greatest number – clearly miss the mark, and the essence of art: art work is not a supermarket that provides products and conditions its audience; it cannot be reduced to the status of an industry and is not a consumer good. Art is not a place for compromise but one for invention, learning, engagement, expression of conflicts, imagination to invent new ways of being together. These art spaces, many of which are on the outskirts of urban centres, are essential to artists’ work and to establishing new art forms and ways of thinking. These places invent types of mobility by providing artists with the material and financial means to create their projects. They are a way to monitor that political and commercial strategies do not appropriate art. They question the role that they themselves play as institutions, the foundation of their activity, the importance of their public address. They must escape outside prerogatives and must not be reduced by simple evaluations and quotas.
The nature and the dynamic of the work undertaken at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers are imprinted with the multifaceted identity of the place: a place for life, for research and the invention of forms, a public space, a commons. Through the years, Les Laboratoires have affirmed the choice of an open functioning and constructed the possibility for an ingenious institution, inclined to vary its rhythms – active when it comes to giving projects impetus, apt to slow down when they need the time to grow. This plasticity shapes the work of the team at Les Laboratoires and relies on an awareness of our wider context and a local network (the relationships that we have formed with residents and major figures in the community). We build our practice on the vibrant forces that are part of the history of Les Laboratoires: collegiate direction and the intellectual emulsion that it requires, welcoming various disciplines and the complementary, diverging or supporting movements that grow out of them, art looked at from the perspective of research, the central place reserved for artists and the extended time granted them to deepen their practice.
We hope to create open and vulnerable situations. Those that feel from within, in all their components, the instability of a world in constant transformation. The plurality of formats and activities at Les Laboratoires arises out of this desire. Whether it be the “rejection of work” debated by several guests at the Printemps des Laboratoires, the position of students at the “Ecole de nuit” created in Bordeaux to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with a type of education that serves to box them in and format them, a device to alter the perception of a single spectator led by Myriam Lefkowitz or the apartment performances jointly written by Adva Zakai and Åbäke, all of these forms of work, made up of moments for discussion, confidential research and individual or collective experiences, are what we have accomplished this year.
This journal is comprised of three notebooks. The first is titled “The Rejection of Work”. It provides the transcripts of activities from the Printemps des Laboratoires, with new additions and a brand new translation of the founding text by Allan Kaprow, The Education of the Un-Artist. (...) In the second notebook, we will look at “places of art”. (...) The third notebook concerns DEsFIGURES TOXIQUES, using texts requested of several of the people who participated in the research group of that name for a week at Les Laboratoires in December 2013. This project, led by choreographer Latifa Laâbissi and the group Ruser l’image, used conferences, research, performances, performance art, words and public debate to explore the role of the “toxic figure” in Western society. (...)
The practice of art, which lies at the heart of Les Laboratoires’ activity, affirms its disobedient, prophetic, non-conformist nature; it tends toward places where it is not expected, it is transformative and accepts and even celebrates change, paradox, dialectics. The rejection of work, a topic discussed widely in art and in political activism, is not so much a refusal of activity as it is a refusal of a place that is assigned or imposed on the artist or the worker by different authorities. Artistic practice seeks other forms of production which do not meet any expectations. That explains why the topic of le Printemps des Laboratoires 2014, the rejection of work, naturally gives way to “Performing Opposition”, which we will explore during the 2015 Printemps des Laboratoires. These movements of rejection and opposition are related to other social and political practices and stand firmly in the “public space”, which itself calls up the idea of commons discussed during the Printemps 2013.