Devoted to artists' publication, Cneai is a national art center. Both a public and a research space, it functions as a platform for contemporary art. Cneai is situated nine kilometers away from the Eiffel tower, on the Impressionists' Island of Chatou. The building extends on four floors. Its exhibition spaces cover two levels, a third one hosts the publication collection, and a print workshop is located in the basement. Moreover, Cneai focuses on a publishing program and on artists’ residencies. Moored on the Seine next to the art center, the «Floating House» is a residency devoted to art professionals developing their projects. Cneai’s visitors include the general public as well as scholars, artists, art professionals and groups.
Cneai has developed five research projects concerning artists’ publications:
1- the FMRA collection (ephemera), an archive of artists’ publications.
2 - the artists residencies program on the Floating House.
3 - the publication project catalogue of publications, ephemeras, multiples.
4 - Salon Light, the self-publishing annual fair of European art work publishers.
5 - exhibitions of the FMRA Collection, at Cneai and outside the art center.
The FMRA Collection (ephemera) =
Reaching Cneai’s last floor, one discovers the FMRA fund hosting the artists’ publications collection. It holds several types of archives including the publishers’, the collectors’ and the artists’ ones.
The online database www.collection-fmra.org concerns, for the time being, one third of the fund but, offers, nevertheless, for each publication, observation and interpretation records as well as a few images. It allows cross search by category, subcategories, dates, countries, artists, keywords, publishers as well as the collection users’ personal selection lists and an open search.
The collection is based on the 21st century’s works, the earliest ones dating from the sixties. A few subcategories have emerged and have been studied closely. More than 2500 artists are represented.
At present, the FMRA Collection holds ten thousands artists' publications.
The collection can be apprehended through 33 categories:
- 12 types : books, postcards, ephemeras, magazines, audio, postcards, digital works, multiples, reference books, videos, unique works, inserts, newspapers.
- 21 sub-types : stickers, badges, calendars, tapes, booklets, books, invitations, scrapbooks, audio CDs, DVDs, emails, flip books, guides, cards games, children’s’ books, bookmarks, posters, bags, tickets, leaflets, vinyl.
Some groups have been researched. They concern types of practices (sound, literary creation, graphic design), formats (newspapers, postcards, vinyl), and artistic intentions: the use of reproduction, reference to music, and reference to cinema. A particular attention has been given to photocopying techniques and to free publications.
Cneai’s collection constitutes an archive for research purposes accessible to amateurs, scholars, artists, publishers and collectors. We aim at the collection’s density, making it reactive, rather then developing it endlessly. Without distinction of countries or continents, we assemble, as well by the publisher than by the artist, what we consider to be among the most creative publishing acts.
The two structural axes being the necessity of publishing (namely, the specificity of the published form) and that of circulation (or the design of a flux), we privilege publishing practices issued from the sharing of artistic authority between publishers, authors, distributors, and audience where each party in a given project plays different roles at the time, namely, that of the artist, of the publisher, the collector. The specificity of these projects lays in the blurring of boundaries between different artistic professions. The nature of these media carries in itself a capacity of reproduction, which announces the sharing process. Thus, the artists are also editors; the editors are collectors as well, etc. We also study the relations between the works, the reactions to categories, the potentials for a renewed circulation and their resistance to exhibitions.
The “Floating house” residency (La Maison Flottante)
Created by the designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, in collaboration with the architects Denis Daversin and Jean-Marie Finot, the houseboat called Maison Flottante is a residency for artists, curators, publishers, and cneai’s supporters. Writers and theorists are also invited to create published projects.
The houseboat becomes, at times, a public space for discussions. Human Sciences specialists debate with art theoreticians during seminars. Philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists or linguists exchange ideas with artists, publishers, collectors or critics about a publication or a research.
Some of the themes analyzed in regards of publishing practices concern reproduction, quotations, industrial forms, the scattering of the exhibition, the artist as archivist, artists’ magazines et newspapers, classification, display, illustration of art history, anthropology of the archives, graphic experimentation, norms in digital publishing.
Residences are organized in collaboration with museums, universities, research institutes, art centers, and magazines.
Books, multiples, ephemeras
Cneai = publishes artists and authors whose editorial practice is also an artistic one. The catalogue presents nearly two hundred publications amongst which about a half are artists’ books and the rest are ephemeras and small multiples and five hundred prints and multiples.
In order to create editorial forms stemming out of artistic content, the graphic concept is specific to each publication. Co-publishing has become one of our basic principles in order to define and sustain other types of editorial practices as well as an economical principle of cost and distribution sharing.
About two hundred artists have been published : Guy de Cointet, Continuous Project, Yona Friedman, Antoni Muntadas, Robert Morris, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Allen Ruppersberg, Temporary Services, Claude Closky, Yann Sérandour, Lee Ranaldo, …
They have treated questions ranging from the status of a creator, authenticity, the intention of rendering public through the media, network, production, stock, appropriation, quotation or plagiarism.
Every year, fifty independent publishers meet at the Salon Light. This annual, three-day, self-publishing art fair gathers the international scene of artists’ publications independent publishers to show and sell magazines, fanzines, journals, vinyl, videos, and periodicals. The Salon Light celebrates publishing as a creative and critical space for presenting artists' work and experimental approaches to making and distributing the work of artists, writers and musicians outside of the commercial mainstream. In addition, we conceive the fair to be an opportunity to engage in debates and discussions around editorial practices as well as in performances, concerts and musical events at the end of each fair day.
Hameau Fournaise 2 rue du Bac, Île des Impressionnistes 78400 Chatou, France
Tél: + 33 (0)1 39 52 45 35, Fax: + 33 (0)1 39 52 43 78, E-Mail: cneai(at)cneai.com
Official cneai’s website: www.cneai.com
By metro: in Paris: take the rapid-transit rail system RER A (direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye), get off at station Rueil-Malmaison, exit "rue des Deux-Gares". Take the direction of Chatou across the bridge (7 mn by feet).
By car: From Porte Maillot, take the A86, direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye, exit Chatou, take the first on the right by the bridge, follow Hameau Fournaise.
Tuesday to Sunday, 12 am to 6 pm
Jean-René Bonnet, Philippe Bissières, Jean-Luc de Feuardent, Daniel Bosser, Antoine Blavignac
Sylvie Boulanger, director, Véga De Selva, administrator, Madeleine Mathé, artistic projects, Sandra Cernjul, communication.
Ville de Chatou, Conseil Régional d’Île-de-France, Conseil Général des Yvelines, Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles d’Île-de-France – Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. Communauté européenne – programme Culture 2007-2013