The practice of art in urban space, on the basis of urban situations, or even as a ‘counter-addiction’ to urban reality, first of all corresponds to the exercise of freedom in society, without being indifferent to the convulsions of current events. With by definition a wide range of possibilities, from the most understated to the most interactive with their territory, from the most utopian to the most concrete, from the most poetic to the most pragmatic, often within the layout arrangements which these different registers depend upon, articulated to meet the objectives by exceeding them. The Urban Space studio is without a doubt transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in the theoretical sense, but it is so above all in the diversity of its practices – the art of designing, the art of doing, the art of saying, the art of showing, etc., – with always the requirement to look for the coherence of the approach, the suitability between the means and the intentions, with, in the crosshairs, the awakening of the senses, the vibrant reflection, the magic of motivated perceptions, and with social, political and environmental requirements, the sense of responsibility in the pleasure of doing …
The programme envisages a progressive inversion of the quantity of exercises and free projects: a large number of goal-oriented course works at the beginning of the bachelor’s, a vast field of research and experimentation in the master’s (whose end-of-study project is combined with a dissertation). The journey takes in calibrated apprenticeships in the technical studio, the representation of space-time, the physical and media-sensitive approach to urban space, a reflection on public art, through modules, workshops, thematic projects, visits and encounters. It always includes the concern to step back and take some perspective and the wish to provide access to work-in-progress so that it comes across well, in going to the essential, in remaining realistic as regards the art market and the imperatives of communication, but in fully including the exhibition as a modality. It is a precise and open process within which the bachelor’s serves to construct foundations and intentions, and then the master’s to implement action through the concretization of generous desires, with the correlation of the autonomy of language and the heterotopia of discourse.
In urban space, we make drawings, produce text, carry out reconnoitring, practise photography and make videos, we produce portfolios, posters, sometimes books, we ink our notebooks or instead colour them in or both, we make collages, objects, we produce models, sometimes, plans, maps, mind-mapping, we join together the technical studio with the digital art studio, we explore the library or we scan the news, we read books to reread them, we organize film shoots and montages, installations, thus projections, frequent exercises in hanging-up objects, spatial installations, we build structures, we paint walls and portray playgrounds, we flee from the masses, we assemble words and things, we knock into shape archives, synopses and dissertations, to learn how to substantiate and then back a proposal, to acquire logistical or other forms of aid, we explore La Cambre in the world or delve into the school for human resources and as a technical field in which to weave, plait, amalgamate elements involving an approach to projects, we stimulate the need to act, the spirit of initiative, the initiatives which obey private imperatives, we overcome boredom but we respect doubt, we tidy the studio occasionally, often, even each evening, without fearing the idea of it looking like a construction site, knowing how a total mess can be in certain cases, we are aware that each hour is precious, that doing again is not wasting time and that anticipation is the finest of tools, we spend time at the Studiolo, we work in situ or ex situ or after, we prepare situations outside school to express ourselves there, to intervene there or to draw images from it, to remove traces from it, to note signs there, clues or proofs, we take over the premises, situations, indeterminate zones, we examine how the urban shifts and mutates, we combine word, listening and gesture, we love the materials and how they are put to work, we work the information, we do not add ‘to the misfortune of the world’ by incorrectly naming things, we establish totally new relationships, we deploy the affinities of the body, we manufacture, we exhibit, we take part in competitions, in calls for proposals, we act individually and/or collectively, we unfold interior enigmas, sensations, singular movements, we simulate, we prototype, we test out, we hone the techniques of perception, of capture, of transfer, we forge concepts with or without irony, we see a lot, here and elsewhere, we swap, we share, we negotiate, all that with clear ideas – or assumed if not yet clear – and the sharpened critical sense, we wield invested references and open complicities with the history, even while making do with the world as it is, we decrypt complex issues in probing appearances without fearing the leap into the invisible, we speculate on the comings and goings between the actual and the virtual, we decode the web, evading anachronisms and anatopisms or playing with them (!), we learn to see what the context is made of, what has woven it, what makes it flesh, what is coiled up in it or hides within, knowing what palimpsest means, we draft tales, we devise fictions which become reality, we know that thought is nomadic and that the unknown is everywhere, we carry out tireless, patient investigations, without a priori positions but thought-through ideas, we inject a dose of ‘Othering’ to trigger reactions, to activate potentials, to reveal latent images or histories rich in escapes, we do not fear difficulty, we enter everywhere but in collusion with privileged interlocutors, we deal with the scales and the dimensions, the representations and the excessiveness, we follow our dreams as far as they will go, we get to the bottom of things, we follow our intuition yet knowing perfectly well that on your own you go quicker, but together you go further, we condense our beliefs so that they stand out …
Pedagogical coordination :
Raymond Balau, architect, writer, critic