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The Royal Institute of Art Announces The International Visiting Chair in Philosophy in the Context of Art Professor Peter Osborne & Professor Catherine Malabou


About Philosophy in the Context of Art at the Royal Institute of Art

The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in cooperation with the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London, launches an annually rotating International Visiting Chair in Philosophy in the Context of Art to commence in the autumn term 2015. The activities of the Chair are intended to provide students of the Royal Institute of Art with a philosophical research climate within the practice of visual art and to explore contemporary philosophical approaches to art and culture.
The idea is to present and develop the latest forms of european philosophy in the context of art, to invite its reflexive appropriation by artistic communities and to develop a dialogue between philosophical and artistic discourses, rather than to offer fixed versions of philosophical positions, to over-determine artistic practices by philosophical principles, or to restrict the artistic significance of philosophy for art to the subdisciplines of aesthetics and philosophy of art. The role of philosophy within discourses on and of the arts has become increasingly central yet also increasingly problematic over the last two decades. Institutions of art education in Europe have yet to develop satisfactory ways of introducing philosophical components, either as conditions of artistic production or in the PhD-level assessment of ’practice as research’, of a quality adequate to such philosophical work itself. The Chair aims to address these issues.
The programme will take place each autumn term and comprise: i) a series of intensive monthly-held 3-day postgraduate seminars and workshops taught by the International Visiting Chair based on their current research, ii) a public lecture by the respective Professor for the larger community, iii) an international conference thematically related to the philosophical trajectory explored within the given semester, iv) a publication derived from the international conference.

About the International Visiting Chair

Professors Peter Osborne and Catherine Malabou will share the position. It is designed to encompass a range of annual projects based on the reflexive relocation of ongoing research in modern european philosophy into the context of postgraduate education at the Royal Institute of Art. The programme will involve research taking the form of, for example, an investigation of the current state of one or two concepts central to philosophical research that have a distinct but as yet unexplored relevance to art practices and discourses more generally. These concepts may be philosophical versions of concepts that have historically been a part of art discourse – such as form, image, and the interesting (Osborne) – or they may be concepts derived from the history of philosophy or current scientific practices, such as inscription and plasticity (Malabou). In each case, the research will intervene directly in the current philosophical debates about the concepts at stake and will reflect on the experience of presenting this research within the context of art education.
Peter Osborne (Autumn 2015)
Since the completion of the book, Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (2013) which sets out to construct a critical concept of contemporary art through a philosophical inquiry into the conceptual aspects of its historical formation since the 1960s, Osborne has opened a further investigation of three main overlapping concepts: form, image and the interesting. Form – in the context of the relationship between social, cultural, and artistic forms, with particular reference to the temporal dimensions of the experience of abstraction in both art and commodity form. Image – in its role as a formal abstraction from the multiplicity of materializations and a mediating form between sensibility and conceptuality – with particular reference to the digital and exchangeability (and hence in its connection to commodity form). The interesting – as a concept that extends the previous recovery of the genealogy of ’epistemological aesthetic’ of early German Romanticism within contemporary art, as the transcendental condition of other types of art judgment. Is it, perhaps, the functional replacement for the community- constituting effects claimed by Kant, at the end of the 18th century, for the concept of beauty?

Catherine Malabou (Autumn 2016)
Malabou’s contention that plasticity has become a major category in philosophy, arts, psychology, neurobiology and cell biology has opened up new perspectives on the way in which subjectivity and materiality, mind and body, are interrelated, along with new relationships between philosophy, arts and biology. Plasticity may be used to describe the crystallisation of form and the concretisation of shape. However, plasticity also appears diametrically opposed to form, describing the destruction of all form. In different ways, Malabou has studied how these interrelated significations are determining a vision of the form that would no longer be related to presence but to temporality (The Future of Hegel), historical metamorphoses (The Heidegger Change), and a change of paradigm from the trace to neural connectivity (What Should We Do With Our Brain? and Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing). Malabou’s explorations into the crossovers of science and art are made through a mode of investigation focused on philosophically constitutive, rather than practically experimental formulations, but will nonetheless be explored here within a practical artistic institutional context.