Like many among you, I too am beginning my final year at the National School of Fine Art in Dijon, but for my part as President of the Board of Directors. It is a role above all, as I interpret it, of listening and support in the running of this institute.
You have chosen an education in art; it is a happy and courageous choice. Few among you, perhaps none, have made this choice as a result of family or social pressure; it is more often than not a choice you are fully responsible for. The field of activity and inquiry in which you are entering allows everything. You have the possibility to reconsider everything, reformulate everything – it is unique to art. But this ‘re-’ necessitates learning, like that which the school offers you and all those teachers and invited guests who animate it. They are many and I would like to acknowledge their commitment at your side or face to face with you.
The list of materials you can use is infinite, from the concrete to the abstract, from natural to artificial, from the oldest to the most contemporary. The practices and techniques with which you are becoming familiar, be it drawing, painting, sculpture, video, film, performance or design, will allow you and will allow those who address your work to put yourselves / themselves in the closest relation (intimate, everyday, immediate environment) as in the farthest (geographically as well as historically and culturally) with areas that do not yet exist and which our imaginations potentiate. That plurality, that extreme diversity is unique to the plastic and visual arts. And ENSA Dijon is watching out for it as its pedagogical project attests in the pages to follow. Take advantage of it! And benefit us also as we are your first spectators.
Hello everyone and welcome to ENSA Dijon.
All the teams here at the National School of Fine Art are very happy to welcome you. I hope that the adventure you are beginning or have begun with us meets your highest expectations.
Our project is first and foremost one of art and transmission closely linked with the international, professional circles in art and design. It is a question of making this school porous, receptive, and especially open to the outside world. To this end, we have tried to increase the situations that allow us to develop our collective ability to challenge ourselves and our level of excellence. This is based on four founding principles:
• The Personal Project of Art Research that we help shape from your first few months at this school. This project, as theoretical as it is practical, will steer you through your undergraduate studies, and becomes the main focus during your graduate studies and the DNSEP.
• The plurality of perspectives: your teachers are not there to provide one vision of art but a diversity of knowledge and ways of working that will sweep aside accepted notions. Do not expect a pedagogy that is slick and uniform. Teaching art and design should advocate the demands of questioning and analysis, that of awareness and distance concerning the developments in our world.
• The Research and Creation Workshops (ARC) are central tools at this school. With a choice from 10 themes on offer, they complement lessons as places of research and experimentation created to nurture your Personal Project of Art Research. You will be part of a workgroup on a specific theme (combining all years and options), led by a minimum of two teachers and numerous external contributors.
• Research in Art and Design: The three research units at ENSA are: Painting & Colour; Art & Society; Urban Mutations. Most of our courses and workshops intersect with and / or support one or more of these areas. Since September 2016, the Art & Society Research Unit, created in collaboration with the MSH – Centre CNRS at the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté, is made up of three programmes: Nouveaux Commanditaires; Work, Migrations, Rural Life and Creating an anti-patriarchal, feminist and queer archive.
The international is at the very core of ENSA. Convinced it is through a well-identified local foothold that the full importance of the international becomes clear, ENSA Dijon advocates that this double networking permeates every aspect of the life of this school. Far from being simply a topic in itself, the international is rather a way of being, of thinking and of approaching the world and our professions. For this, the mastery of a second language is essential. You will find its hue as much in our regular curriculum as in the 4th year internships, workshops, Research and Creation Workshops, and especially the programmes of residence and preparation for professional life that we began to offer in 2015 to our recent artist graduates (the USA, Benin and Brazil among others).
To put in place our School Project, we set about reworking our pedagogical tools from 2015 in conjunction with the teaching staff, student representatives and the teams. This restructuring is visible in a number of advances: the implementation of The Personal Project of Art Research, progressing from 1st to 5th year; also of 10 ARC workshops allowing for the creation of a link between pedagogy and research; identification of the research interests and the identity of the school; creation of the Art & Society Research Unit with the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté; reallocation of school space; creation of permanent workshops for Painting and Art & Science; development of programmes to prepare for professional life abroad; extension of the school outside our walls (a former gymnasium of 280m² adjacent to ENSA, a workshop of 120m² in Hall 38 made available to ENSA by the city of Dijon, the project of Hameau Farm in collaboration with the Community of the Commune des Terres de l’Auxois within the framework of the Nouveaux Commanditaires Research Unit. Indeed these changes are ongoing and brought about the creation of a new body enabling better collegiality in January 2017: the Improvement Committee in which you are invited to participate, takes place once a month.
It is worth knowing that we have strengthened the advisory bodies of the school allowing for more open governance and in which you have the possibility to be part: CA (Board of Directors); CRPVE (Committee for Research, Pedagogy and Student Life). Likewise we intend to form a Scientific Committee in order to handle with greater precision the development of research at ENSA.
I invite you to become actively involved in these bodies as much for bettering your school as for developing your collective conscience and sense of collective good.
Know also that the coming academic year will be marked by matters concerning property:
• The former university gymnasium adjacent to the school now belongs to us. Construction works in the coming months will allow us to enjoy this new space made up of 280m² from our courtyard;
• The accessibility works compulsory for all public buildings under the responsibility of the Ministry will begin at the end of the year (summer 2019). They will allow, amongst other things, the creation of a cafeteria of 50m² in the main building.
To finish, let us not forget the tremendous effort spearheaded with external partners. This direction has been strengthened and developed by our presence now in the COMUE (Community of Universities and Establishments) of the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté, also by a local and international foothold – two dimensions intrinsically linked – in particular upheld thanks to the creation by this school of a Centre for Action and Research in Contemporary Art (PARAC), which unites ENSA, the Consortium, FRAC Burgundy and Dijon’s Fine Arts Museum. PARAC is presided over by Richard Armstrong, Director of the Guggenheim in New York. Through its creation, we intend to offer you more professional opportunities, internships, contacts with big names and the discovery of major works and artists of our time. Likewise we have been a founding member of CENA (Conference of Art School Directors), as well as the Platform of Art Schools in Burgundy Franche-Comté with whom we have begun to organise seminars to reflect on our practices.
We are attempting to do our best to introduce you to the professional world and your future careers with determination. For this, it is necessary to continually question our common interests and return art to the centre of what is possible.
To be an Artist or Designer is a committed choice: it is for us to best prepare you for what will make you into visionaries, knowing how to take part in the contemporaneity in this world. Art is our core, the world our playground. It belongs to you. As does this school. Do not hesitate to shake it up. One motto should unite us: high standards and goodwill.
And remember that my door is always open to you.
Now it is your turn, good luck everybody,