From further (1967)
to nowhere (1977)
and beyond (2007)
A video interview, directed by Michel Aphesbero
An extract of Friedrich Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1986) chosen and introduced by Patricia Falguières
Rosa Bonheur was born into a family of painters – mostly animal painters – in Bordeaux, which is also where this new magazine is now being born, almost two centuries later. Her painter father was an influential figure in a cultural environment illuminated by the passage from the brilliant neoclassicism of the 18th century to the eclectic romanticism of the 19th century’s more demotic delirium, in an ultra-local version. What we love about Rosa is her cheeky, wacky personality; the fact that she persuaded the Prefecture of Paris to let her dress up as a man so that she could visit the city’s livestock market; that she was one of the first women to run an art establishment, the Young Persons’ Free School of Drawing in Paris; that she openly displayed her lesbianism; that she went off to explore virgin territories in the west of the West, rejecting the status and role imposed on women painters at that time – and indeed for many years afterwards. Her social notoriety fascinates us, as does the international commercial success of her painting; but what bewitches us most of all about Rosa Bonheur is the friendships she struck up with Buffalo Bill and the Empress Eugénie, who, like her, were pioneers of appropriation techniques such as remakes, re-enactments, allegories and inventories.
Rosa B. is a magazine produced by two of Bordeaux’s art institutions – CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art Bordeaux and the Bordeaux School of Fine Arts – which are long-standing accomplices: one might think, for example, of their past collaboration on the 1996 Traffic exhibition, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, or the more recent One Night Stand, among many other examples. Rosa B. will provide a common space of reflection and discourse on artistic practices, but also a point of intersection between, on the one hand, the School’s concerns for the transmission of knowledge, research, experimentation on new approaches and ways of thinking and doing, and, on the other, the efforts of the museum to define a precise, innovative cultural and artistic project that is able to convey to its audience the ways in which artists reflect on the world, apprehend it and transform it, through new works, exhibitions, publications and events. Each issue of the magazine will focus on a particular theme, subject or question that is a common concern for the two institutions. The choice will be made by an Editorial Board made up of professors from the school and members of the museum’s team. An editor, who will change with each new issue, will then put together a set of textual and audio-visual contributions reflecting on the chosen theme.
Our intuition is that digital media as a production context for a magazine, and the Internet as a vehicle for distribution, can bring about a genuinely innovative, critical form of writing; that it can help develop new ways of thinking and talking about contemporary artistic practices and related questions, but also new ways of looking at art. We think that today’s media and the Internet (besides the questions of economics and reader/viewership that are of legitimate concerns for the traditional media – the press, radio, television – and justify their positioning on the web) provide new temporalities, spaces and structures that can be better adapted than printed media and text alone to think and talk about art. We hope that Rosa B. will favor such more diverse, more inventive, less formatted approaches.
The first issue of the magazine looks at publishing, and Thomas Boutoux, an associate professor at the Bordeaux School of Fine Arts, independent publisher with Metronome Press and founder of the castillo/corrales gallery-bookstore in Paris has been asked to edit it. There was nothing accidental about the decision that the launch of the Rosa B. adventure should feature the theme of publishing, and discuss the kinds of artistic publications that we admire and the types of approach to publication and distribution that seem most relevant to the current context. It was a natural point of departure for an editorial project that takes place in a field which, at first sight, can look already saturated with art publications (magazines, catalogues, web sites, weblogs, etc.). In the manner of a curator, Thomas Boutoux trawled through this particularly dense landscape in search of distinctive editorial endeavors that stand out as models, due to either the aesthetic coherence of their approach (q.v. the film of a studio visit with Mark Manders, a Dutch artist who is known for his sculptures and installations, but who also, with Roger Willems, runs Roma Publications), their function as agents of resistance to the modalities of thought control that are used in contemporary societies (q.v. the interview with the American novelist, publisher and activist Matthew Stadler); the new editorial and economic strategies that have been developed as a response to the conditions of production and distribution of the present-day art publishing world (q.v. the filmed interview with the British graphic designer Stuart Bailey, who also edits the magazine Dot Dot Dot). Two other elements complete the editorial ecology of this inaugural issue of Rosa B.: the first French translation of a seminal text by the German philosopher Friedrich Kittler on the importance of technology in the history of modern thought, and a compilation of a new archive based on questionnaires sent to a number of contemporary artists, asking them about their relationship to printed material.
The various questions raised in this first issue of Rosa B. characterize the type of ongoing reflection that takes place in art schools and museums. There are questions of reproduction, the organization of spaces and situations, the limits of the "white cube" exhibition space and the place of the studio in art schools. These questions are also integral to specific projects that have been undertaken by the Bordeaux School of Fine Arts over the years concerning publishing and graphic design, and even more recently as it is currently looking into the possibility of setting up a postgraduate program on “editing practices” (projected title: “Edit! The New Theories and Practices of Editing”) or is organizing the symposium, “Norms, Formats, Supports”, in October 2008. As for the CAPC, this first issue of Rosa B. will contribute to redefining its functions. One can no longer settle for a publishing program confined to exhibition catalogues, while at the same time neglecting the radical changes that are taking place in the transformation of knowledge and information. Nor is it possible for a museum to conceive of itself as a closed, protected space that ignores its new relationship to space and time. And the concept of an artistic heritage can no longer be regarded as applying only to identifiable physical objects. It is thus the entire ethos of the museum that needs to be re-examined, and Rosa B. is taking a step in that direction.