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Reconciling art and craftsmanship

Réconcilier l’art et l’artisanat

ندوة دولية التوفيق بين الفن والحرفية من 27 الى 30 أفريل 2023 توزر.

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Published on Thursday, December 01, 2022


The conference examines the relationship that binds craftsmanship to the artistic field, through experiences examined in different countries, and asks the following questions: Is it imperative to set up an integrated training program for craftsmen across the whole Republic of Tunisia? Are the measures dedicated to the use of crafts as a privileged tool of the “anti-unemployment policy” sufficient? What is the responsibility of higher institutes of fine arts and crafts in Tunisia in promoting the sector? Designers and visual artists, will participate with their theoretical-practical projects, individual or collective, dedicated to this relationship between art and craftsmanship, to furnish an exhibition of arts and crafts objects, which will be organized in Tozeur in parallel with the conference.



In the Vocabulary of Aesthetics dictionary, Etienne Souriau mentioned eight definitions of art, two of which interest us because of their close link with the subject of the conference. First: art as a “specialized technique”. Secondly, art as “fine arts” and “plastic arts”.[1]

The first meaning, according to Etienne Souriau, "is represented in all the multiple artistic activities which are distinguished from other human activities by the combination of three characteristics: 1) the use of regulated processes..., 2) the need for certain knowledge , 3) the realization of concrete and most often material works” [2]. Example: the manufacture of glass, paper, etc.

As for Ibn Khaldoun, he named these same activities, “Artistic industries and professions”. These require a gift from their maker and produce useful and beautiful items. According to the expression of Ikhwan al-Safa', these industries and artistic professions are linked to science and thought: "An industry that requires reflection and prudence [3]". They are also often closely related to the local memory, are distinguished by their characteristics: artistic, artisanal and technical and shared by all, which makes them a cultural actor and an identity revealer. Afif Bahnassi described these types of artistic craftsmanship as folk art, and wrote: "Folk art was everyone's art, in which everyone is creative and everyone is knowledgeable..."[4]

All these nomenclatures and meanings actually summarize the meaning of the term craft. The term "craftsman" , which has taken many definitions throughout history, designates today the one who ensures the total realization of objects, from a prototype that he conceives himself, by referring to his manual skill, simple unsophisticated tools and machines. This allows him to perform works that seem similar. However, they are different and unique, giving it an artistic and creative character, which mixes the aesthetic dimension with the utility, the heritage and the decorative dimension.

In Tunisia, the expression "traditional industries” is used to designate the various local crafts of a popular nature which have had a great presence in Tunisian daily life since antiquity, such as: pottery, weaving, jewelry, manuscripts, etc. , which continue to this day in various forms. In this same sense, the expression “Traditional trades” اis also used in some Arab countries.

As for the second meaning of art, appearing in the name "fine arts", this is what became during the time of the Italian Renaissance, all the arts, such as painting, sculpture, engraving, drawing, architecture and music, which have taken the name of arts, after having been considered among the craft activities. This made it possible to draw a line under medieval thought in the West and announce the launch of the successive modern times which began in Europe and encompassed most of the countries of the world [5].

Indeed, the "fine arts" depend on the creative self because of their particular characteristics, as they express the artist's own conscience by highlighting the particularity of his style. They also require scientific knowledge and manual skills that are built up in practice and experience, and aim for visual pleasure and intellectual contemplation. Moreover, they are self-sufficient, unlike handicrafts which are basically utilitarian. In the middle of the 20th century and in the extension of the term fine arts, the term plastic arts gradually imposed itself.

Despite their difference in purpose, there is a close relationship between these two types of art, both of which are concerned with the transformation of matter, thought and aesthetics, which reflects their artistic and creative aspect.

If at the beginning of the 19th century in the West, the proponents of "art for art's sake" sought to establish a distinction between these two types of art, which became clearer in the writings of their theoretician Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), writing “There is nothing really beautiful except what is useless; everything useful is ugly. […]” [6], the artistic currents of the early 20th century rather worked to transgress this distinction and to reconcile art and craftsmanship. Paul Souriau, in his book The Rational Beauty, explored the beauty that resides in the apparent perfection, obtained thanks to the perfect match between the object and its function, which is found in certain handicrafts, in tools, furniture and more...

In the same direction, Art Nouveau and the Bauhaus school founded by Walter Gropius (1919-1933), built their program on the principle of the interaction of art and functionality.

The Bauhaus was able to theorize functionalism to herald modern architecture and design. Now the utilitarian arts have taken on various nomenclatures, the most important of which are: design, applied arts, decorative arts, etc.

The word "arts" is used today to designate all these different branched arts, which are interested in form, whether plastic and visual arts or arts related to the utilitarian aspect (design), or architecture.

The symposium is interested in the different terminologies, sometimes contradictory, which revolve around the word "Handicraft" used in these and other approaches presented. However, he positions himself on the terms " Traditional Industries " and "Traditional Trades" , to question their compatibility with the definition of craftsmanship as a practice that relates to the artistic associated with renewal.

There is no doubt that the so-called "traditional" industries, which draw their sources from the accumulated cultural depth, in order to identify with their historical and geographical environment, are also closely linked with all the societal changes which impose new needs and new values. There is no artisan product apart from fluctuating history. This harmony of the craft product with its present time can only be linked to the extent of the creativity of the craftsman capable of transgressing the conventional. Does this explain the designations that appeared during the 20th century, which avoided focusing on the word "traditional" and instead evoked the term art: "Art and crafts" or "Arts and crafts" or "Artisan of art” or “Arts and crafts”?

The conference questions this relationship that links craftsmanship to the artistic field, through experiences examined in different countries, to reveal the aesthetic, cultural, socio-economic and ecological issues that result from this interaction, at a time that believes rather in the dismantling of all the barriers between what used to be called the major arts and the minor arts, and which considers creativity to be an occurrence and a process and not the limitation of action in prior time.

The conference asks the following questions:

Is it imperative to set up an integrated training program for artisans throughout the Republic, particularly those in rural areas, allowing them to open up to the field of artisanal creativity? Most artisans, spread across the country, still live in social isolation and repeat the production of the same objects inherited from tradition. This has greatly contributed to the decline in their standard of living and to the reluctance of young people to turn to marginalized crafts.

Are the measures dedicated to the use of crafts as a privileged tool of the “ anti-unemployment policy” sufficient?

In view of the loss of the craftsmanship of its operational and economic profitability in Tunisia, should we think about articulating the relations between the artists (designers and visual artists), the craftsmen, the art institutes, the scientific research, and the governmental institutions concerned, particularly the National Office of Tunisian Crafts, as well as NGOs, to develop reflexive, formative, legislative, communicative and commercial strategies, based on the establishment of institutional frameworks in which all these parts interact to achieve the desired objectives?

This symposium offers the opportunity to all the specialists in the field, to present their studies and testimonies to bounce back to the axes of research mentioned below.

We also expect university researchers, designers and visual artists, to participate with their theoretical-practical projects, individual or collective, dedicated to this relationship between art and crafts, in general, or particularly to furnish an exhibition of handicrafts entitled: Fiber Natural, Perfume Oasis, which will be organized in Tozeur in parallel with the conference.

Lines of research

  1. “Traditional industries”, “Traditional professions”, “Arts and crafts”: Terminological research and raised issues.
  2. Interaction Memory - Craftsmanship - Art, from experiences borrowed from the history of art, on a national and international scale : studies and testimonies of actors in the field.
  3. What artistic training program for artisans ?
  4. Higher Institutes of Fine Arts and Arts and Crafts : what role in the promotion of crafts ? The problems posed.
  5. Crafts facing the challenges of globalization and industrial mass production. (Chinese products are an example).

Realizations of handcrafted art objects, supported by theoretical studies, carried out by researchers and interacting with one of the following plant fibers : esparto, rushes, reeds, palm leaves, as well as palm wood. The best proposals will be selected to participate in the “Natural Fiber, Perfume Oasis” exhibition.

These lines of research remain open and will be enriched thanks to the proposals of the participants in the conference.

Sami Ben Ameur, Emeritus Professor (University of Tunis)

Terms of submission

The abstract must not exceed 4500 characters, including spaces (in Arabic, French or English), and must include a title, 5 keywords and a bibliography.

The participant must mention:

  • Surname and first name, affiliation and brief biography (500 characters).
  • The axis of intervention.

The deadline for sending abstracts is December 25th, 2022

to the following email addresses : colloque54@gmail.com - et - colloque.artetartisanat@gmail.com

* Please also complete the attached form by clicking directly on this link.

The abstract proposals, once anonymized, will be submitted to a scientific committee which will carry out an evaluation according to the principle of double-blind reading.


The acceptance of the proposals does not engage the principle of its publication in the proceedings of the conference. Each submitted article is evaluated according to the same double-blind principle.

The publications will be in the form of a:

  • long article , 30,000 characters maximum.
  • short article , 10,000 characters maximum.
  • Testimony and research (theoretical — practical), with poster presentation.


  • The deadline for sending abstracts: December 25th, 2022
  • Notification to authors : January 20, 2023.
  • Sending the full text of the entry: before March 5th, 2023.

Arts and crafts, relating to projects (Theoretical-Practical) concerned by the theme "Natural Fiber, Perfume Oasis" and intended for the exhibition, can be submitted in the form of a 3D representation. (Poster)

  • The symposium will take place in Tozeur (Tunisia), from July 16th to 19th, 2022.

Participation fee

The participation fee is for Tunisians and North Africans, 650 TND and for non-North Africans, € 350 :

  • 450 D: accommodation covering [3 nights] in a 4* hotel full board. This amount must be transferred before February 15, 2023.
  • 200 D: registration fee , covering coffee breaks, conference pack and tourist activities. This amount will be given on March 16th to the conference reception service at the hotel, or transferred before this date.


Organizer : Language and automatic processing laboratory (LLTA), Axis: Art, design and Emerging technologies (ADNT), Univ. of Sfax.


  • National Handicrafts Office
  • University of Tunis.
  • University of Sfax.
  • Higher Institute of Fine Arts of Tunis, (Univ. Tunis).
  • Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of Sfax. (Univ. Sfax).
  • Higher School of Science and Technology of Design, (Univ. Manouba ).
  • Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts of Sfax, (Univ. Sfax).
  • Higher Institute of Fashion of Monastir, (Univ. Monastir).
  • Higher Institute of Fine Arts of Nabeul, (Univ. Tunis).
  • Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts of Gafsa, (Univ. Gafsa).
  • Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts of Mahdia, (Univ. Monastir).
  • Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts of Siliana , (Univ. Jandouba).
  • Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts of Tataouine, (Univ. Gabes).
  • School of Architecture, Audiovisual and Design. Tunis (ESAD)
  • Doctoral School, Arts and Culture, Isbat, (Univ. Tunis).
  • Architectural Science and Engineering Doctoral School, ED SIA ENAU UCA. (Univ. Carthage).
  • Association of Tunisian Visual Artists.

Conference Organizer : Sami Ben Ameur. Emeritus Professor (Univ. of Tunis)

Head of the ADNT axis research team : Ramzi Turki. Associate Professor (Univ. of Sfax)

Laboratory Manager (LLTA) : Mohamed Bouattour. Professor (Univ. of Sfax)

Steering committee

  • Baha DHAYA (Univ. Jandouba)
  • Beya HBََAIEB (Univ. Tunis)
  • Cheyma ZAAFOURI (Univ. Kairouan)
  • Houda ABADA (Univ. Gafsa)
  • Imen BEN ROMDHAN (Univ. Tunis)
  • Imen GUEZGUEZ (Univ. Tunis)
  • Jihen TRABELSI (Univ. Monastir)
  • Karima AZZOUZ (Univ. Gabes)
  • Noura Nefzi (Univ. Carthage)
  • Saber SAHRAOUI (Univ. Tunis)
  • Taher RKIWA (Univ. Gafsa)
  • Yosra BOUDABBOUS (Univ. Carthage)
  • Zinet TRIKI : (Univ. Kairouan)

Scientific Committee

  • Bernard LAFARGUE, Emeritus Professor, (Univ. Bordeaux-Montaigne)
  • Dominique CHATEAU, Emeritus Professor (Univ. Paris 1).
  • Fétah BEN AMEUR, Professor, (Univ. Sfax).
  • Habib BEN YOUNES, Director of Historical and Archaeological Research. (Univ. Tunis)
  • Habib BIDA, Emeritus Professor, (Univ. Tunis).
  • Hervé FISCHER (Univ. Sorbonne-Paris V).
  • Imen BEN YOUSSEF, Professor, (Univ. Montréal).
  • Jean-Jacques WUNENBURGER, Professor, (Univ. Jean-Moulin-Lyon III).
  • Kamel KCHAW, Professor, (Univ. Sfax).
  • Mohamed BOUATTOUR, Professor, (Univ. Sfax).
  • Mounir TRIKI, Professor, (Univ. Sfax).
  • Nadia JELASSI, Professor, (Univ. Tunis).
  • Omézine BEN CHIKHA, Professor, (Univ. Tunis El Manar).
  • Sami BEN AMEUR, Emeritus Professor, (Univ. Tunis).
  • Sana JEMMALI AMMARI, Professor, (Univ. Sousse).
  • Chiraz MOSBEH, Lecturer, (Univ. Sousse).
  • Khaled ABIDA, Associate Professor, (Univ. Monastir).
  • Moufida GHODHBEN, Lecturer, (Univ. Carthage).
  • Olfa NJIMA, Associate Professor, (Univ. Gabes).
  • Ramzi TURKI, Associate Professor, (Univ. Sfax).
  • Sadek TOUIL, Associate Professor, (Univ. Gabes).
  • Salwa MISTIRI, Associate Professor, (Univ. Carthage).
  • Salma KTATA KTARI, Associate Professor, (Univ. Manouba).


[1]Etienne Souriau,Vocabulary of aesthetics , Paris, PUF. 1st edition , 1990, pp. 167-170.


[3]إخوان الصفا: الرسائل ، الرسالة الثامنة، بيروت، دار صادر للطباعة رسالة الثامنة، بيروت، دار صادر للطباعة رص، وال724 الاش، وال724 الال، وال724.

[4]عفيف بهنسي . الفن الحديث في البلاد العربية. دار الجنوب للنشر-اليونسكو.1970. ص. 102 .

[5]Etienne Souriau, op.cit.

[6]Théophile Gautier , Mademoiselle de Maupin , G. Charpentier, 1880  (read online [ archive ]), “Preface”, p. 22.


  • Friday, January 20, 2023


  • artisanat - métiers d’art -Designers -arts


  • Ramzi Turki
    courriel : turki_ramzii [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Ramzi Turki
    courriel : turki_ramzii [at] yahoo [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Reconciling art and craftsmanship », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, December 01, 2022, https://calenda.org/1036353

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