Leiden relaunch

Written by Luke Boorman

Dear all,

After a long hiatus and many changes, we are very proud to announce that the ArtScience Forum project will resume in 2018. This time in the city of Leiden.

A change of location such as ours (from the Hague to Leiden) is never without reason. Leaving aside some of the more dull practicalities, our relocation was a decision that we made in good faith, that being in Leiden would enable us to do what was not possible in the Hague or in other locations in the Netherlands. Leiden is a historically rich and intellectually diverse city that has always been a meeting place for the sciences, culture and art. It is a european academic centre with some of the most prestigious and interesting scientific initiatives on the continent.

On a similar note, we must confess that the move away from the Art Academy was a deliberate one. The Forum was started partly due to an exasperating sense of limitation...

The Art Academy; a space and community with its own set of cultural formations and educational procedures does not yet have the capability to facilitate integrative and truly interdisciplinary education across all areas of intellectual and artistic endeavor. Perhaps a specific department here or there will flourish as an interdisciplinary centre and we have seen many of those such departments spring up over recent years. However this interdisciplinarity has not diffused into the very foundations of the academy despite departmental formations being more integrated and flexible in terms of combining different areas of the arts, crafts and design themselves. There has not yet been a larger scale extension of this atmosphere to include ‘non-artistic’ education.

The reasons for apprehension and push back against more integrative educational practices at the academy wide level are multiple, but often stem from bureaucratic and practical differences and difficulties. Pedagogical tradition and lack of economic/market justification are also a major factors. Creating an interdisciplinary space is (more simply put) extremely challenging. However there is certainly a need for young artists today to be generally educated in such diverse areas as: social history, politics, computer science, technological criticism, critical theory, natural sciences, psychology, social sciences and global issues. This is not to say that the content of all work should touch upon one of these areas, absolutely not; but that young artists and designers enter the world being able to understand and meet the needs and aesthetics of a new and changing society, while maintaining their own autonomy and approach. We are on the way there; so much has been done, art institutions are taking note, but there is more work to carry out and it must assume a more radical approach.

The move to Leiden is about bypassing this limited viewpoint: the ‘problem’ of the art academy. We feel now that the ArtScience Forum, through its newly found independent position, is better placed to engage people that operate from differing disciplinary standpoints and bring them together to discuss and connect in a lateral, organic and less instrumental way. Similarly we are now able to operate between different institutions and organizations that will bring in their own expertise and practitioners. This is the beginnings of our model for a truly integrative platform.