The Artist, The Scientist and the Industrialist (ARC PROJET)

In October 2022 have started the ARC project entitled “The Artist, The Scientist and the Industrialist” (2022-2027; promoters Petra James and Dennis Ioffe) focused on the multi-disciplinarity and plurality of Modernism(s). The project articulates a new vision of interdisciplinary research, which brings together scholars from the Faculty of Letters, Translation and Communication, Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Solvay. The team is fully invested in exploring cultural, scientific, and economic aspects of peripheral modernities and modernisms through viable research methodologies and applied practices. The title of the ARC project alludes to Henri de Saint-Simon’s famous “proto-socialist” essay “The Artist, The Scientist and the Industrialist” (“L’Artiste, le savant et l’industriel”, 1825), which transformed the military term “avant-garde” into a powerful cultural metaphor, referring to artists as the “avant-garde” of the people. In Saint-Simon’s vision, an ideal state (where art and politics make one) would be led by the avant-garde, the artists, opening the way to scientists (les savants) and industrialists, offering a vision of social progress made possible by their collaboration.

Our ARC project is a necessary steppingstone towards large-scale research allowing the field of research on Modernism to be considerably renewed, while de-centring the perspective. It is important to strip the study of European modernisms from its geopolitical dimension and go beyond the context of the Cold War of the second half of the XXth century. Our ARC research project aims at filling the existing research gaps while embarking on an ambitious research collaboration to rethink the understanding of European modernisms. We are applying a transnational approach to the history of European modernisms that we prefer to the concept of modernist internationalism. Such an approach favors a horizontal understanding of modernist networks rather than a hierarchic structuring and is particularly well adapted to the Central-European context with often fluid national identities within the realm of Austro-Hungarian empire and its successive nation states after 1918. The works in archives in East-Central Europe will bring to the knowledge of academics and general public unknown documents and works of art. The research will feed into the pedagogical practice at ULB as the team of the project will offer a new interdisciplinary course to our students at the end of the project.