Margalit Berriet on HAS – The Magazine of Humanities, Arts and Society

Art Spiel in Dialogue with Margalit Berriet

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Mémoire de l’Avenir in Image, Exposition Kind Of Magic 1, 2019

Arts and Society launches a call for contributions for HAS, the new digital magazine in English and French for the Humanities and Arts in Society, to be published in Spring 2020. Arts and Society is a project launched on the initiative of UNESCO-MOST, the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH), Mémoire de l’Avenir (MDA), in partnership with the Global Chinese Arts and Culture Society (GCACS). Arts and Society is a global movement of artists and projects reflecting on the impact of creativity in society, using the arts and cultures as fundamental tools for improvement, innovation and transformation. The goal of this new publication is to analyse current challenges through the lenses of the humanities and the arts. Created for a wide audience, HAS offers a space of expression for the most innovative, enlightening, imaginative, creative and relevant initiatives around the world.

The theme of the first issue, Big Data and Singularities: Creativity as a Basis for Re-thinking the Human Condition, favors a Trans and multidisciplinary approach, inviting scholars, researchers, critics, artists and professionals from all fields to contribute articles, scientific papers, essays, reviews, interviews, videos, photo reportages, artistic projects, columns, podcasts and other formats. The editorial committee includes members of UNESCO-MOST, CIPSH and MDA. Margalit Berriet, the founder of Mémoire de l’Avenir (MDA) – Arts & Society, shares with Art Spiel the ideas behind these cultural initiatives.

AS: Tell me a bit about your background and the art venue you founded in Paris, Mémoire de l’Avenir?

MB: I am a fine arts research artist, curator and essayist, graduated with a master in fine arts from NY University in 1984. I was born in Tel Aviv – Jaffa. Since 1988 I have lived and worked in Paris, France. My high regard to certain parts of the world of the arts was born out of the realization that the Arts can offer individuals as well as societies intuitive and sensitive ways to experience the world; inviting to express viewpoints, but also prompting to get involved, propose, act, and contribute. The arts and cultures are the mirror of the journey of humanity, therefore also a fantastic tool in education for all, to learn and to transmit in creative manners issues ranging from questions related to the humanities, sciences, ethics and aesthetics. Through the arts we may also observe and sooner or later learn to appreciate the endless pluralities of individuals and societies, ideas, histories and identities that compose our realities. The Arts perhaps also offer non-belligerent ways to question and to discover. Creating is seeing, looking & searching for new ways to state, to resist, to criticize, to propose, to act.

I believe that my personal art is coming from a temptation to explore relations, to discover oneself and the “other”, proposing the complexity of these meetings between differences. The Arts & cultures can contribute to an intuitive, sensitive and knowledgeable meeting between all differences, as a recognition of similitude and universalism. I have been preoccupied by Ignorance as the cause of stereotypes, racism and discrimination – an awareness that has motored and guided my art. I think that the responsibility of an artist lies not only in aesthetic research or intellectual impact, but also in influence, challenge, proposal, criticism and ability to raise awareness, as best said by French Martinique born poet, author and politician, Aimé Césaire, “I cannot imagine that the artist could remain an indifferent spectator, refusing to take an option…Being engaged means, for an artist, to be inserted in its social context, be the blood & flesh of the people, experience the problems of his country with intensity and testify.” It is in the same esprit that I chose to create Mémoire de l’Avenir and Arts & Society

Via the tools of the arts, patrimonies and education, Mémoire de l’Avenir (MDA) incorporates multi-disciplinary competences of artists of all expressions working side by side with educators, scholars and humanists working towards a greater knowledge of cultures, promoting intercultural understanding and exchange. It has included an international workshop network in cultural places, schools, and social centers in France, Germany,Turkey, and other countries; connecting citizens, who both learn to appreciate and attest to the richness of cultural diversities. MDA also offers a place for expression to artists who are engaged in social or political approach, to expose, debate, take part in workshop training, and become actively engaged with the civic society.

Arts & Society is a project initiated by UNESCO-MOST (John Crowley), The International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) – Luiz Oosterbeek and Mémoire de l’Avenir (MDA). It was first presented at the World Humanities Conference in 2017 (WHC) and now is in partnership with the Global Chinese Arts and Culture Society (GCACS), Pro. Lin Xiang Xiong. Arts & Society is a global movement that aims to gather creative and artistic projects from around the world, using creativity to impact society in all matters of life. The project was established in order to foster close collaboration between the humanities and the arts, cooperating also with scientists and scholars, in efforts toward a global change. Arts, cultures, and creativity are fundamental tools in education, in improvement and in innovation, in resistance, and in the fight against ignorance.

Monument for Violence – Peter Brandt, Performance by Clemence Vazard

AS: Art and Society has launched a call for contributions for HAS, the new digital magazine in English and French for the Humanities and Arts in Society. What is Art and Society and what would you like to share about HAS?

MB: Arts and Society is a project first initiated by UNESCO-MOST, the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH), Mémoire de l’Avenir (MDA) and now also with Global Chinese Arts and Culture Society (GCACS). The mission of the Arts and Society Project is to establish a worldwide movement of artists whose creative work will demonstrate the impact of the arts and of creativity on society, promote global understanding and collaboration, and contribute to the debate within the humanities regarding universal issues. The question is: What are the roles of the arts, of artists, and of creativity in the world’s progress and transformation?

In the context of the World Humanities Conference, UNESCO-MOST and CIPSH assigned Mémoire de l’Avenir to create the Arts and Society project. I wrote a project plan and we launched an open call for artists to present how they work with social questions in their artistic practice. We received over 130 responses that are available on the A&S platform, and were presented at the 2017, World Humanities Conference, In liege, Belgium. The Global Chinese Arts and Culture Society joined as a strategic partner which has allowed us to expand the scope of the project with a new platform and the digital publication HAS Magazine.

Languages of Environment,  Avi Sperber & Suki Valentine

AS: Can you elaborate on your vision for the digital magazine?

MB: The goal of this new online publication is to discuss pressing world issues through the analysis of a wide range of topics in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. To further the mission of the Arts and Society platform, this digital magazine will offer a space to share Tran- and multi T disciplinary projects that creatively address the most important issues facing our society today and tomorrow, including high-level research in the natural and social sciences, such as economics, philosophy, anthropology, and ecology, along side local but innovative initiatives, and work of artists of all disciplines.

By making these accessible to a wide audience, we hope to prove how creativity is a fundamental tool in all fields of education and research, in learning or fighting ignorance, racism, and contribute to better living together in multi-cultural and multi disciplinarian world, beyond political or religious borders. We are emphasizing the central role of interdisciplinary collaborations between the Humanities, the Sciences and the Arts, as a pre-condition to be able to build joined and effective programs for the future.

AS: And specifically, what are you looking for in this current open call?

MB: The theme we chose for the first issue is Big Data and Singularities: Creativity as a Basis for Re-thinking the Human Condition. It relates to today’s technologies advances and how big data serves also in the process of observations and progress in various fields of life. For example, Emmanuelle Pouydebat’s ecology related work (Quand les animaux et les végétaux nous inspirent), and the economics related work by Esther Duflo have both used creativity and big data as tools for learning, observing, acting and changing. On the one hand, the use of big data is pivotal in education, technology progress, as in the fight against violence, but on the other hand, it will also enable the collection of enormous sets of data from our everyday actions online, which poses questions on freedom of choice, personal discretion, individuality within a mass media economy, adverse influence on political or on private choices. The first issue of HAS magazine aims to represent scientific reflections and theoretical concerns as well as analyses and reviews of artworks and creative practices investigating these contrary ideas. Topics may include—but are not limited to—investigations of the following questions:

How should we consider “Big Data”? The current debates on its benefits, drawbacks, and challenges can be confusing to the non-specialized public. How can we find a balanced and objective survey of this phenomenon? What are the advantages that it brings to everyday life? Who can take advantage of it, and how? What are the implicit dangers connected to its wide application? What can artists and intellectuals do to disseminate further knowledge on the importance of its proper, ethical use? How are singularities and serendipity connected to Big Data? What is the importance of singularities in today’s world, where one of the most dangerous challenges seems to be the homogenization of individuals, where personality diminishes and becomes only an algorithmic data element? How can we maintain and promote creative individuality? On the other hand, is Big Data necessarily in opposition to singularity? Can the two find areas of positive and mutual benefit? How can the information gained from the analyses of Big Data contribute to the unfolding of creative singularity?

We welcome contributions in different formats, including articles, scientific writings, short stories and multimedia formats such as video, podcast and visual reports. We encourage creative responses to the question of Big Data to understand how it can be used creatively but also ways to support creativity to resist it.

AS: What is a good way to submit or get in touch with you?

MB: Submissions are to be sent to at the latest on January 31, 2020 at midnight Central European Time (6 pm EST). Details about the submission along with more information on the theme can be found here. Artists and creative project leaders are also invited to get involved with Arts and Society by submitting a video of 1:30 seconds, describing your practice and motivations along with a written presentation and a dossier of your work to be featured here. More details on how to get involved with Arts and Society can be found here

Last but not least: A strong and very knowledgeable team of 6 permanent persons with 6 other external posts constitute the Mémoire de l’Avenir- Arts and Society’s team; this entire work is done in full collaboration with them and thanks to their dedication. For further information please look here.

With Beaux Arts Students, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 2014, Photo courtesy: The French Institute in Kabul

All photo courtesy Margalit Berriet

HAS The Magazine of Humanities, Arts and Society Full information about the theme and requirements can be found in the open call. A public event will be dedicated to the release of the first issue at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris in June 2020.

Florence Valabregue – Les mots pour vous dire + 33 6 61 10 39 66 Marie Cécile Berdaguer & Katarina JANSDOTTIR / Arts and Society – Mémoire de l’Avenir +33 9 51 17 18 75

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