Since its creation in 1972, erg has defined itself as a research school where the activation of modes and spaces of production enables students to learn while developing a practice. The articulation of the classes aims at forming a zone of convergence favoring the emergence of unexpected occurrences, of modes of exchange and collectiveness, and of hybridized forms, thus contributing to the training of citizen-artists in relation to the world, extending far beyond the curriculum. Here, what matters is not to offer certitudes, but to gather the conditions for a maximal degree of experimentation that pushes the students to position themselves in relation to their medium while de-constructing it for a better appropriation. In order to de-construct a medium, one needs to manipulate it. The specificity of the erg’s teaching method lies in its inter- or trans-disciplinary approach, guaranteed by the way students and teachers interact across various disciplines: video, painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, installation-performance, digital arts, typography, graphic design, visual and graphic communication, illustration, comics, animation. In the Bachelor’s program, these interactions take place in pluri-disciplinary workshops organized as clusters: Art, Narration and Media. In the Master’s program, four programs are proposed: Art Practice, Critical Tools (Art and Simultaneous Contexts), Narrative and Experimentation (Speculative Narration), Politics and Experimentation in Graphic Design (Design & Politics of the Multiple / Artistic Practices and Scientific Complexity). Students also have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with other practices through in-school internships, during workshops organized by the teachers with external guests and open to multiple orientations, or through the use of various learning sites (video editing room, super 8 lab, sound lab, print lab, and so on).
Spaces dedicated to production and action are becoming more diverse. The first years are marked by a maximal degree of experimentation in relation to these spaces. Experimenting the nature of a workshop: a computer, a table, a stage, a kitchen. The multidisciplinary workshops are not confined to the classes, as every space in the school may lend itself to experimentation: the auditorium, specific classrooms, the cafeteria, or the various exhibition spaces. The plastic development of ideas, projects, external commissions, or acts of communication is a process that occurs and operates within its very elaboration. It is a necessary stage: imagining, making, seeing, saying. It matters to accompany the students at they venture in critical territories uncharted by traditional manuals. In order to address the issue of production conditions, the tools the students manipulate must be explored and understood: software, pigments, typography, film, or voice. Is form determined by history, IT companies, technical limitations, economical means, the workspace?
Critical and theoretical tools
One must also explore the issue of the critical conditions of productions pertaining to the existence of the students’ projects: with what analytical tools are we looking at things? What are the sources of these tools? Who is talking? To whom? In what kind of economic, political, and social system? In what kind of history? Throughout the curriculum, the purpose will be to support a form of resistance and epistemological disobedience to the norms and the codes of history. An art practice articulated around the possibility of a critical thought necessarily places its references and its objects within a geopolitical context. Practices cannot be separated from their sites, their forms, and therefore from their techniques, their time, their relations to other artists, art forms and situations.
A specific attention will be given to productions that may have a parallel existence according to various formats: performance, video, lecture, publication, or graphic design. These forms are explored collectively by learning from and questioning the other. The working conditions raise the issue of group work, as the group is a necessary condition for experimentation. This collective work will therefore be central concern for the teaching and administrative team. Such a stance will lead to probe the way the school functions and evolves, as well as the way artists, authors and scientists work. Inviting them to observe the kinds of relations that are developed, the protocols that are established, and the kind of hospitality that is offered. These educational priorities are elaborated with the erg’s team of teachers, together with a program inviting actors from the fields of art, science, and humanities in the form of workshops, seminars, and public interventions. Erg is a place dedicated to artistic, plastic and graphic practices that venture in theoretically and formally critical zones. It offers spaces and pedagogies to be defined and re-defined collectively. It is a place where one may learn from what does not work – that is, a place dedicated to research.