by Alexis Jakubowicz / Head of Publications and New Media

“A proposition said to emanate from me (…) briefly, that everything in the world exists to end up as a book.” Stéphane Mallarmé, Divagation

Lafayette Re-Source is Lafayette Anticipation, Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette’s response to the appearance of an increasingly synchronous art world, which sees all of its agents — artists, gallery owners, institutions, curators, critics, viewers, collectors, etc. — interacting with the same tools. For the first time in history, those who produce, transmit and receive forms or ideas are using the same devices. This synchrony results in a seamless ecosystem, within which everyone must constantly redefine his or her place.

Lafayette Anticipation, which has created a new institutional model, approaches art not as a product, but as a production, and in this sense it gives substance to the intuitions of sociologist Howard Becker, author of a remarkable essay Art Worlds (1982).

Becker’s use of the plural has that particular way of making a work of art into a vision of society. While the art world is a fairly vague metaphor that mostly refers to “fashionable people associated with those newsworthy objects and events that command astronomical prices”, Art Worlds describes the cooperation of professional networks — including the most discreet or anonymous — that work towards creating and distributing works. These sometimes competitive but always coordinated “worlds” are held together by shared values:

“What I have said about art worlds could be said about any kind of social world, when put more generally: ways of talking about art, generalized, are ways of talking about society and social processes generally [...] we might say [...] that the world of art mirrors society at large”.

Lafayette Re-Source is, in the extension of the building at 9 rue du Plâtre, the place where this vision of society manifests itself, where staff of the Foundation, artists, their partners, critics and the public produce and share forms and ideas.

This platform, built and conceived based on principles of openness to audiences, availability of contents, institutional transparency and critical support will enable programmes to be made into flows rather than things since “the information, and not the thing, is valuable” (Vilé[2] m Flusser); it is the information and not the thing that produces meaning. Through this device, art worlds will find a way to automatically write and describe industrial quantities of another kind of discourse on art, making it possible, in short, to “make visual reports without syntax” (Marshall McLuhan).


By Alexandre Monnin / Philosopher and researcher at INRIA. 

It seems to me that if there is a visible tendency common to art and digital technology in the contemporary world, it is the notion of participation. The spectator’s participation has never stopped gaining importance since Duchamp carried out his famous displacement towards the viewer. At the same time, contemporary philosophy — from researchers in science and technology studies to speculative realists (who should not be confused with one another) — is conversely marked by the object’s return to the fore as a source of agency that cannot be reduced to its perception, its knowledge, or even its use. Under these conditions, where should contemporary work be situated? One possible answer would lead us to examine the work that artists themselves have done behind the contemporary art scenes, as anthropologists have been inviting us to do for several decades. But this writing that surrounds the works, the “art writing” of which Gregory Chatonsky speaks, potentially refers to a very particular meaning of the “project” notion, and echoes the aporias of the contemporary definition of a work of art.

In order for the latter to operate like an open system that is completed or amended by the spectator, the former would have to be a product of a plan or of anticipation: the work must be “programmed in advance to include its possibilities”, writes Antoine Hennion. When this anticipation is related to its working conditions, especially the requirements of its financial backers, it soon becomes a trap for the artist: art writing, fixing an evolving process in the form of a trace, ultimately leaves little room for the unfolding of the project and the altering all of the involved actors, in a way that could not be fully anticipated or planned. This is one of the motives for analysing controversies in sociology: to follow the displacements and alterations that affect actors as the controversy unfolds outside of any known teleology.

Maybe we really have entered the “post-Internet” era. Nonetheless we are still in the prehistory of the Web and of thought on its architecture, on its standards, or on turning reality into data (data that has no existence: one simply speaks of objects — “resources” — associated with identifiers that are linked to other identifiers in order to describe each other, and so on ad infinitum…). By conceiving the Re-Source platform in the form of a mise en abyme proceeding according to anticipated results of research, an uncertain exploration between art and science, we are obviously intending to address, at the heart of technology, the two questions of the work and the project, so that the tensions and aporias these realities carry will not be embedded and reproduced at the heart of the system. If the Re-Source platform has to reveal what goes on behind the contemporary art scenes, this is primarily to show the work to be completed and not the completed work. As a statement through design, it intends to become a fully-fledged element of contemporary creativity, by making visible its effects on artists’ work, which it will inexorably contribute to altering

On 22 and 23 June, various actors from the worlds of art, advertising and digital got together to discuss the new web platform for Lafayette Anticipation, Fondation d'entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Lafayette Re-Source.

Workshops directed by Jérôme Denis, Paul Soulellis, Attilia Fattori Franchini and Julien Mercier.

Public events:
22 June – 7pm: Lecture by Alexandre Monnin.
23 June – 7pm: Lecture by Mike Pepi -
From Open Source to Open Culture: Preliminary Materials for Thinking about Lean Institutions.
23 June – 10pm: Screening of the film Museum Futures: Distributed, by Neil Cummings.

Coordinated by Alexandre Monnin.
Documentation by Camille Richert.
Videography by Cédric Fauq