Upcoming lecture by renowned artist Vitaly Komar

The Centre for Humanities Innovation at Durham University is proud to sponsor a lecture by renowned artist Vitaly Komar, to be given on Thursday, 27th November from 17:00 to 18:30 in room ER142, Elvet Riverside, Durham University. Mr Komar was one of the founders of the Sots Art movement (Soviet Pop/Conceptual Art) and a pioneer of multi-stylistic post-modernism (1972-73). He will give a talk entitled “Collaboration with Animals in Art: Sots-art and Conceptual Eclecticism”; all are welcome to attend. For more information, please contact humanities.innovation@durham.ac.uk.

Does academia suppress creativity?

“Creativity enhances life. It enables the great thinkers, artists, and leaders of our world to continually push forward new concepts, new forms of expression and new ways to improve every facet of our existence. <…> Unfortunately, in the academic world—where much of today’s scientific innovation takes place—researchers are encouraged to maintain the status quo and not “rock the boat.” This mentality is pervasive, affecting all aspects of scientific research from idea generation to funding to the training of the next generation of scientists”.

Fred Southwick wrote this a year ago in “The Scientist“. Even stronger these bitter observations apply to the state of the academic humanities: while dealing with the most creative human endeavors (arts, literature, language, philosophy), they are even less creative, experimental and transformative in their methods than sciences. Why?

Southwick explains the prevalence of the status quo in sciences by the conservative academic leadership and research funding. Are these reasons sufficient to explain the stagnation in the humanities? Or should we address much deeper methodological issues? Why are the humanities, even in contrast to sciences and scientific technologies,  so obsessed with the past and so indifferent to the future, to the human potential?

Mikhail Epstein