POLART poétique et politique de l'art L'art, c'est l'aujourd'hui
encore aujourd'hui demain.

Antonin Artaud



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Polart (poetics and politics of art) aims to provide a meeting ground for theorists interrogating the links between art, language and society, and convinced of the necessity of such an interrogation in any conceptualisation of life.

Art as problem

In this perspective, art – which includes literature – is considered as a problem. This implies that the activity within Polart is a critical activity, aimed therefore towards the identification of the issues at stake. This point of view refuses the precondition of a definition of art as object, but conversely it requires the consideration of definitions of art, as symptoms of these issues.

In this sense, considering art as a problem does not mean that art is defined as a problem, but that it is taken as a problem. The question is not to define an object, but a status.

A poetics of art

Elaborating a poetics of art presupposes that language is the primary concern when taking on the question of art. The starting point here is Émile Benveniste’s idea that language, in its discursive activity – in its historical activity therefore – is the interprétant of society. And not only of society, but of any human activity. This position, which affirms the anthropological primacy of language, considers necessarily that a poetics of art constructs a théorie d’ensemble : an integral problematics which holds together the full range of the questions that constitute the human sciences.
But the term “poetics”, crucially, implies a relationship to literature. This relationship is critical, in the sense that in literature (or in what is designated as literature), language is not the vehicle of a thought content, but an activity which makes the linguistic, the ethical and the political planes inseparable from each other. More precisely, we can talk of “literature” – or of the “poem”, in Henri Meschonnic’s sense of the word – when, in a discourse, language is this activity.

Art – a test question for the human sciences

A poetics of art therefore necessarily calls into question the status of language in the human and social sciences, and observes what becomes of the issue of literature and of art within these discourses, as they generate not only theoretical problems but also problems about epistemological legitimacy in the critical field. (Ethnology, literary criticism, psychoanalysis, sociology, history of religions, etc.)
This makes art a major testing ground for the human sciences and the social sciences, in particular when it comes to thinking about the relationship between the individual and the social. It implies a diagnosis of the questions which these discursive fields are currently asking, by looking at their relationship to art and literature, from the point of view of language. This will have the effect of clearly situating the discourses which try to impose their hegemony in the field of the anthropological, and of constituting a critical force in opposition to the current consensus on the general crisis of knowledges today.

Polart – critical project

On this basis, Polart’s objective is to constitute a common theoretical reference which every member will bring to bear within their various disciplinary fields. The discussion with theorists from other positions, or those holding views that differ from those of Polart, is necessary to the common critical project : it will be conducted in the form of specific seminars or collaborations. Open dialogue is a necessity for Polart’s critical project. Polart is not a closed, unified space ; it is not a power base. In its collective vocation, it is first and foremost a utopian space, open to the necessity of displacement.

The critique of critique

Insofar as Polart aims to engage with the present, its theoretical activity has to include a critical involvement with current critical thinking. The idea is to take the opportunity of current events (new publications, media campaigns, public debates, political decisions, etc.) to build a response to the discourses that wield the knowledges they produce to exercise power.

Journal et forum

All news concerning Polart will be posted on the weblog Polart – poétique et politique de l’art. This will include announcements about :

- new publications (whether by Polart or other authors)
- courses and seminars (by Polart or other scholars)
- academic, intellectual or artistic events
- topical periodical articles or special issues, radio or TV programmes, websites…
- and the forum

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