Practice and Theory in Contemporary Art (PTAC)

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PTAC observes and examines the profound changes that contemporary art has undergone since the 1950s and 1960s, in its forms and techniques as well as in the relationships it establishes with reality. The team, made up of lecturer-researchers, PhD students and artists, conducts transversal projects in the visual arts, art history, aesthetics, and human and social sciences applied to the arts. The laboratory explores these transformations of the arts by focusing on certain media considered to be particularly indicative of the shifting borders of art territories: the artist’s book, artists’ editions, exhibitions, performance, and design.

Research Topics

Art as production

Changes in the nature and status of the work of art and redefined relationships between artistic practices in the course of the 21st century mean that creation must be understood as a process. New forms have been invented, notably through books. But what are the new issues raised by the dissemination of artistic production that must be confronted by the creators and theoreticians of art?

Art and politics

In the era of globalization, is it conceivable to think that art can hold real critical power and testify to political efficacy? There is little doubt that, be they public or discreet, the most diverse artistic gestures (photography, performance, video, installation, etc.) are now occupying the public space to give it back its strength of resistance in the face of authority. But if this is to be a possibility, what conditions need to be in place?

Art and epistemology

Art researchers take a genuine interest in the human and social sciences, along with other disciplines like mathematics, information and communication sciences and technologies, life sciences, sociology, ecology, political sciences, and psychology. But what methodological contributions and appropriations do these other disciplines bring to the table? What is the future of methodologies developed specifically for carrying out art research or artistic practice?

PTAC focuses on the various implications involved in drawing from other disciplines in order to understand art and its current theories.

On the Villejean Campus

The Art & Essai gallery is an exhibition and screening space for the contemporary arts scene. Under the direction of the cultural service, the gallery organizes four to five exhibitions a year, with monographic or collective projects by guest curators. The program is managed by a lecturer-researcher from Rennes 2.

The Cabinet du Livre d’Artiste (artist’s book cabinet), created in 2006, is a multipurpose space for archiving, exhibiting and reading in the arts, with over 4,000 titles freely available for consultation. Dedicated to the phenomenon of the artist’s book, the Cabinet was awarded the CollEx label (outstanding collections for research) in February 2018.

Écrans variables (Variable Screens) are held four times per year at Le Tambour (a 300-seater auditorium). These screenings take an open look at a broad spectrum of moving images, from avant-garde cinema to documentary, video art, and experimental art.


Key Figures: 20 lecturer-researchers / 24 PhD students