Hers' protocol reverses the processes of art commissioning.
The basis for the Nouveaux Commanditaire project was established by artist François Hers in 1990 when he drew up a protocol that laid out the terms and conditions necessary for reestablishing art production as a part of social fabric. Art, he argued back then, can only legitimate itself as a relevant social practice if it is accepted as such by citizenry.
Therefore art needs to get out of the museum and make its presence felt in people’s everyday lives. His Nouveaux Commanditaires Protocol consequently outlines a methodology that breaks the boundaries between art and artworld, by simply reverting the idea classical commissioning process:
If we want an artwork to have social relevance, so Hers, groups of citizens should be in charge when it comes to commissioning, but not the museums, the collectors, the galleries or the curators.
"The Protocol of the New Patrons defines the roles and responsibilities of the players who carry out an action together, the goal of which is the creation of artworks in all fields.
This Protocol proposes to every person who wishes it within civil society, without exception and in any place, either singly or in association with others, the means to assume the responsibility of commissioning an artwork from an artist. As a commissioner, it is up to the person in question to understand and to state a reason for which art is meant to be and for the investment of the collectivity in the artwork.
The protocol proposes that artists create and invent forms that may respond, in their infinite diversity, to the demands of society and accept, thereby, to share the roles that make artistic creation a collective responsibility, not just a private one.
It proposes that mediators establish connections between the works and the public, the possibility also to be mediators between the artist and the commissioner in person, and, beyond them, among all the players who happen to be involved.
The mediator organizes their cooperation. He provides the necessary knowledge for the choice of the medium and the artist as well as the skills that will allow for the production of an artwork that respects the requirements of the demand as well as the creation.
The mediator can also act as a public producer to take the artists’ initiative into account when he finds that it addresses a contemporary situation.
The protocol proposes that the elected representatives, sponsors and those responsible for public and private organisms contribute by their investment to the development of an “initiative democracy” while they assume a political mediation that allows the artwork to be inscribed in the community for which it is intended. They also personally assume the responsibility of an offer that responds to a collective necessity.
The protocol proposes that researchers in various fields contribute towards recognition of the necessity of art, by putting the undertaken action into perspective and basing it on an intelligent reading of the situations at stake that will be better shared.
In committing to an equal sharing of responsibilities, all players agree to manage through negotiation the tensions and conflicts inherent in public life within a democracy.
The work of art, having become an actor of public life, thus ceases to be merely the emblematic expression of someone’s individuality to become the expression of autonomous persons who have decided to form a community in order to invent new ways of relating to the world and to give a shared meaning to contemporary creative activity.
Financed by private and public subventions, the artwork becomes the property of a collectivity and its value is no longer a market value, but the value of the usage this collectivity makes of it and the symbolic importance conferred upon it."
François Hers, 1990