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Competition of Ideas: "rethinking the social and economic conditions of art"

A Paris-based organization is hosting a "competition of ideas," the object of which is to rethink the social and economic conditions of art, explicitly breaking with twentieth-century conventions. The winner gets 10 000 euros -- not bad; both the winner and the runner-up get the expanded (100 page) version of their initial three-page proposal published. Bear in mind that this is how a hitherto unknown proto-blogger by the name of Jean-Jacques Rousseau got started (winning a competition for his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences)... For funding reasons, it's open only to residents of the European Union. But as n.e.w.s. is registered in Europe, and collectively authored proposals are encouraged, I figured that we might take a multi-handed stab at rethinking the material conditions of art. Wouldn't it be a boost for our collective energies if we won? And even if somehow we didn't, we would at least have cured our twentieth-century hangover and gone some way to creating a twenty-first century We. Beyond that, I would encourage everyone using and reading n.e.w.s. to take part. Deadline: 15 November 2008.


The upcoming Forum of Essays on Art will host, following a proposition from Jacques Serrano who conceived the event, a first “competition of ideas” on the theme of: “rethinking the social and economic conditions of art * ”

This invitation to rethink the social and economic conditions of art by questioning conceptions inherited from the twentieth century seeks to present the artworld – as well as the political and intellectual worlds – with two forceful proposals, developed by two European thinkers, whether they be artists, critics, curators, philosophers, sociologists, economists, jurists, etc.

*For this first European competition of essays on art, the proposed theme covers the field of the visual arts and it benefits from a 10,000€ first prize thanks to the support of the Mondriaan Fondation.

Texts (three pages) may be submitted in French, English or Dutch.

Submission deadline: 15th November 2008

C o m p e t i n g I d e a s

information | Mabel Tapia

+ 33(0)1 42 60 39 18

Forum de l’essai sur l’art
Institut National d’ Histoire de l’Art
6, rue des Petits Champs
75002 Paris | France
conception | Jacques Serrano
information | + 33(0)1 42 60 39 18


Rules and regulations

Article 1.- This “competition of ideas” is conceived by Jacques Serrano and organised by the Association
Forum de l'Essai sur l'Art, 9 rue du Val de Grâce 75005 Paris, France.

Article 2.- The aim of this competition is to elicit and to promote two forceful intellectual propositions put
forward by two European authors on the theme: “Rethinking the social and economic conditions of art”:
Toward a new status of art questioning twentieth-century conceptions. This first competition covers the field
of visual arts. Participation is free and unrestricted.

Article 3.- The competition is open to participants (artists, researchers, critics, art students, curators...) from
all cultural and intellectual fields: philosophy, sociology, art, economics.... Collectively authored texts are

Article 4.- Candidates should send a three-page synopsis (250 words per page) outlining their proposal. Texts
are accepted in French, English or Dutch.

Article 5.- Submissions must be received by 15 November 2008 (midnight local time). A duly completed
entry form (see attached) must accompany all entries, whether submitted in print or by email. Proposals may
be sent by email:


Or by post:

Association Forum de l'Essai sur l'Art
Concours d'idées
9 rue du Val de Grâce 75005 Paris

Article 6.- Two propositions deemed most relevant will be selected by a reading committee comprised of
experts of international standing (critics, philosophers, art historians, curators). The authors of the two
selected propositions will have nine months to develop their initial propositions into the form of an essay of a
minimum of 100 pages, which will subsequently be published.

Article 7.- The winning authors will be informed of the jury's decision by mid November. The selected
proposals will be made public during the European Forum on Essays on Art on the 22 November at
midnight. The proposition deemed most outstanding by the jury will be awarded 10 000 €, to be paid out in two
installments: 5 000 € at the end of November 2008, and 5 000€ upon reception of the final draft of the essay.
The proposal chosen as runner-up by the jury will be published.
The Association Forum de l'essai sur l'art will undertake discussions with European publishing houses to
encourage the translation and publication of both essays in different languages.
Both selected authors will accept the disclosure of their identities as well as the publication of the content of
their proposals.
All texts entered in the competition will be posted on the Internet with the written consent of the authors (a
permission form provided by the organisers must be completed and submitted along with the synopsis).

Article 8.- The reading committee reserves the right not to award a first prize if it deems that no essay
meeting the aforementioned criteria of quality has been submitted.


Forum de l’essai sur l’art

Count me in. Great initiative. I think that to a certain extent we are attempting to "rethink the social and economic conditions of art" at n.e.w.s. How do you plan to go about it? Since the Position Statement needs an overhaul we could address some of the same issues inherent to our predicament and place it as a 'book' under 'Shaping n.e.w.s.'. Should we start textually or first have a Skype pow-wow next week sometime? Who can make it next Thursday evening Eurotime?



It's the word "rethink" that is curious. I like the word -- most verbs describing symbolic activity are better prefixed by a re- anyway -- but there is an idealist bias in the claim that social and economic conditions be "rethought," rather than being reembodied in actual practices. Without overstating the case, n.e.w.s. is about both: being the change it wants to see happen, and a forum for self-reflexive consideration of that change.


contest & ideas

The competition of ideas looks like a wonderful opportunity to coordinate some of our thoughts, rethinking the social and economic conditions of art, and challenge ourselves to colaborative writing (which I see as one of the intersting ideas behind n.e.w.s.). I am very intersted to rethink this though with you all. Time is a bit of an issue, but I am hoping to find some in the dark hours of the night.


contest of notions

Several hours later, after a good night's sleep, my mind got mezmerized by the thought of a 'competition of ideas'

I am thinking about all of us setting up a *contest of notions* -- *east vs west*, *north vs south* and moving our thoughts into critical rethinking of the recent *world cup of global art*. Following the contest we reflect on the outcome of the games so far, and reavaluate the ongoing competition of ideas -- the clubs, the players, coaches, the fans, the audiences, the spectacle, the commentators, the money that was made, and the merchandise.

Rethinking the social and economic conditions of art could start with the key question raised by Weng on the function of art. What is it that art does? What does it want from us? In all, some of the discussions that were held before on n.e.w.s. seem to direct us to a way to rethink 'art' all together.

Perhaps, it is just a competition, for us to watch, enjoy, and to analyse.


I'm in too!

This a really a great initiative! In the Netherlands there recently was a price awarded for young art criticism.
The winning result was published in a Dutch and Belgian newspaper. But this competition sounds like the real stuff: ' Rethinking the social and economic conditions of art', it is by no means an easy task, but this is exactly what art criticism should be doing at the present moment. I'm going in! What a pity that I read this just now... 5th of November..just possible!


rethinking the social and economic conditions of art

Here's the text so far, any comments please do so in the coming 24 hours!