An infinite gaze.
Photography is not defined by a technique but by a visual practice entailing a relationship of connecting to the referent, well beyond a mimetic trace of the real. It is a term which both designates a process and an outcome, entailing an indivisible complementarity between the action of the photographer and the resulting object. On the one hand, a process through which the operator expresses, in a state of full awareness, their conceptual and technical choices and, on the other hand, an outcome which contains the intentions and the physical, plastic expression of the author. The primary pedagogical objectives are to encourage and to deepen the creative and singular personal approaches to photography while using the medium’s specificities to their fullest effect, without neglecting the ability to transmit a message and the potentiality of its reception. The reflective issue of the student’s artistic project focuses on their intentions as a creative author and as an actor in the world in which they operate: to that end, they will take into account notions external to their being (sociological, political, meta-artistic, etc.) and, in a society which is becoming more and more standardized and homogenous, they will be an ambassador of creativity. At the end of their studies, the student should have acquired valuable know-how but above all a process of reflection, a work method and, autonomy in the development and completion of a project.
The course is divided into three important sections:
Learning the techniques
The course begins with essential techniques and skills, with the goal of understanding the range of these techniques, learning the basics and the tools required to develop a personal artistic project, becoming a professional in the medium and feeling free to use it in all projects.
This segment consists of setting up a framework for the training, guiding students in their daily photographic practice, articulating both action and reflection. Students are asked to shoot based on themes proposed by the teachers and themselves. They are conceptualizing, executing and defending their projects to the group and in individual sessions which encourage their process. They are asked to begin developing a personal photographic vocabulary fully informed by historical and contemporary context, experimenting visually with the image in its widest sense, including interdisciplinary practices in contemporary art and its various supports: installation, video, book production or performance. Also included is an awareness of the final form of the work and its placement in space. The presentation of graduate work and other exercises may be in the form of a public exhibition.
The school is a transitional space; the teaching staff emphasizes the progressive autonomy of the student and his or her artistic project through the development of certain critical faculties. The department seeks to help students transform their knowledge – learning, being capable of executing activities they are practicing daily – into expertise – being able to comprehend and see, grasping the relationship between reflection and the outside world, being aware of creating, making art and the issues therein, questioning acquired skills and knowledge.
Classes offered involve meeting and working with photographers, videographers, plastic artists and leaders from cultural institutions. There is an awareness of societal questions and other factors in the art world, involving seminars with invited professional guest artists, photographers, gallery owners, museum directors, collectors, and going outside the school to other venues, following exhibition organization, courses, Erasmus exchanges, competitions, portfolio consultations, fairs, museums, artists’ workshops and other schools.
The first year is a time of preparation, discovery and initiation. Indeed the entire first cycle (Bachelor degree) consists of exploration and confrontation; this confrontation with historical and contemporary art, and specifically in photography -- helps students to develop their own voices and their personal projects.
In the second cycle (Master degree) students further develop the creative dimension of their work. They choose and design their own programs, selecting a number of cross-disciplinary art classes, tutorials and finalités (specific choices culminating in a Master’s degree). They also have the option of studying abroad through the Erasmus exchange program. Students learn about the production chain, about distribution, and the positioning of their work. Graduation involves the production and presentation of a personal project.
Cross-disciplinary workshops are organized involving other departments at the School or in collaboration with outside institutions (European schools, museums, other art centers). A “post‑school” seminar focuses on communication (student portfolios, texts), royalties and the legal status of artists. A research seminar is offered to students wishing to develop a more elaborate theoretical form of reflection. Other classes, in the department or as a CASO, are also available.
Pedagogical coordination: Hervé Charles, photographer