[iDC] The Future of the Humanities: The Culture of Application

Stefan Roemer stefanroe at web.de
Thu Jul 14 18:00:19 UTC 2011

Thanks Geert, Simon, Florian and the others,
for your different perspectives. Reading the appealing discussion on the relations between the arts, the humanities and science, between the culture and the economics, between autonomy and industriy, between the institution and the self organized approach as well as between practice- and reasearch-based arts let me think on how this either-or-discours became again so dominant? Beside the incredible practice that becomes manifest in this list for instance––which seems to me a mix of institutionalized and self-determined interests––to work in an institution as well out side of it becomes more and more hard labour in the sense of creative writing in a Culture of Application. Without applications and their juries all this projects are unconceivable. And it needs a lot of institutional poetry and slickness to succeed––but less knowledge or episteme.
"The Culture of Application" describes perfectly the era we are living in and means not accidentially the gouvernamental artistic or informal/immaterial labour which dominates the arts since around ten years which seperates it from a paralleled heavy boom of commercial market art. This shouldn’t be out discussion because the high prices in the market get always used as parameters to cut our practices of research-, conceptual- and/or new media-art.
I would like to welcome the research programms in art academies and schools as a kind of flower of conceptualisms if they wouldn’t be a blatant signifier of the economical processes the arts are undergone in the last two decades. But in opposition to that I claim a concept of culture which is not the autonomous part of society, but it should be a specific form of practice––better all forms of practice which consider themselves as a practice of culture. The same holds true with the synthesis of arts and humanities in a specific transdisciplinary––post-Kantian––theory of cognition or epistemology as practice.
You can always say, that I have an easy talk because decided to make a PhD in art history as an artist––like many artists before––which enables me to jump from academies to universities to free selforganized projects. But how can you imagine to work intellectually reflexive in the arts without the possibility to decode and code not only so called artworks but also the institution in the sense of a practice? We witnes strong corporate processes against the so called autonomous field of arts and sciences since the early 1990s, and I have written a lot about this. But the most precise recent characteristics regarding cultural production is the Culture of Application. How can we legitimize all this institutional application-poetry in relation to the political processes of cutting grants and subventions for independent practices which effect harsh social consequences for bigger and bigger parts of the society? What makes the creative a class?
I want to draw a simple analogy: my generation was in the 1980s able to study for a specific knowledge in the sense of developing a specific interest; in contrast my BA-students have to study for points. After their BA they often realize that they practiced for two or three years the wrong issue, so they start with another BA.
Isn’t this highly absurd for a system (in Europe synonym with "Bologna") which promoted itself with the goal of more effective studies. Now it seems to me that the most ineffective studystructure is the better one.
Sorry for this personal claim.

More information about the iDC mailing list