Call for papers


Send your text (1,000 - 2,000 words, footnotes included) in US letter format (doc, docx, or rtf) to before September 1, 2016. Please include a short biography (30-50 words), an abstract of the text (80-100 words), as well as postal and e-mail addresses. We also welcome submissions (reviews, essays, analyses of contemporary art issues) not related to a particular theme (annual deadlines: September 1, January 10, and April 1).

Next theme: Library

The library as an institution is a repository of the document. It houses printed, analog, and digital materials for the purpose of future learning undertaken by the archetypal researcher and the curious student. The library, as a theory, is the consummate reader, the classifier of the written word, and the storehouse of the historical image. It is a place of conservation, acquisition, documentation, and research, with the goal of disseminating and preserving tangible pieces of communication (such as books) and intangible methods of communications (such as language). Libraries are thus institutions that not only accumulate knowledge, but also sanctify it for posterity.

“Library” refers to both a physical room where books, photographs, films, and music are archived, while also calling to mind something more intangible: big data. With the sweep of digitization projects taking place in institutions across the world, the role of the library as a physical space to peruse is in a state of constant flux. Indeed, the ever-growing detritus of information on the Internet has dramatically altered the manner in which artists and viewers access, collect, and interpret archival material. Primary source documents are more accessible than ever before with the use of online libraries such as JSTOR, digital museum and academic archives, and online exhibitions. Reincorporating this raw material into the gallery instigates questions concerning copyright infringement, authenticity, and the democratizing effects of the Internet and the open-access archive. Have the digital revolution and the electronic dissemination of information lead to a reconceptualization of the library? If so, in what ways have artists examined this seismic shift?

In his essay “The Archival Impulse”, Hal Foster defines archival art as a genre “that make[s] historical information, often lost or displaced, physically present. To this end [archival artists] elaborate on the found image, object, and favour the installation format.” Indeed, the library, the archive, and the document have been used as framing devices in contemporary exhibitions where archival material is employed as an organizing principle, or integrated into artworks themselves. In showcasing the very process of research, how does this affect interpretation? In this case, how does the role of the curator differ from that of the librarian?

If library collections reflect definitive choices, are not the books and printed ephemera selected for posterity interpretations of what is deemed “useful” knowledge? How have artists articulated the dialectic between what is deemed “sacred” and “desecrated” knowledge? Can this process of selection not be likened to the personal/ individual collection? In light of digital collections, how have artists incorporated “book culture” in their works? What theoretical frameworks have enabled artists to respond critically to the changing role of the library?

In light of these questions, among others, this issue will delve into the role, status, and function of the library in contemporary art.


Esse arts + opinions, published three times a year by Les éditions esse, is a contemporary art magazine that focuses on contemporary art and multidisciplinary practices (visual arts, performance, video, current music and dance, experimental theatre). It offers in-depth analyses of current art works and artistic and social issues by publishing essays that deal with art and its interconnections within various contexts.

Submissions are accepted three times a year: January 10, April 1 and September 1. Writers are invited to submit essays ranging from 750 to 2,000 words (including footnotes). These must be e-mailed in Word format or RTF to For editorial purposes, writers should include their postal address, telephone numbers and e-mail address, as well as a short biography.

All articles are reviewed by the Board, which reserves the right to accept or refuse a submitted article. Selection of articles may take up to 6 weeks after submission by the writer. The Board's decision is final. A refused text will not be re-evaluated.

With the exception of the expressed consent of the Editorial Board, the writer agrees to submit a previously unpublished, original text.

With the exception of the expressed consent of the Board, the Board does not consider articles that may represent a potential conflict of interest between the writer and the content of the article (i.e., a text written by the curator of an exhibition).

Conditionally accepted articles will be up for discussion between the writer and the Board. If changes are requested by the Board, the writer will have 15 (fifteen) days to carry these out.

With respect to the vision and style of the writer, the Board reserves the right to ask for corrections and modifications to be made to ensure overall clarity, and coherence of an article.

esse agrees to pay the writer $60 per sheet (250 words/sheet) and to provide 2 copies of the magazine upon publication.


Upon signing the contract, the author(s) revert exclusive copyright to esse, for a period of five (5) years, beginning at the date appearing on the signed contract.

While remaining holder of the copyright, the author(s) concede to esse, for a period of ten (10) years, an exclusive license permitting esse to reproduce or authorize reproduction of the said text on all electronic mediums worldwide, be they on paper (reprographies), acetates, microfiches, microfilms, or electronically (CDs, Internet, intranet, etc.).

In counterpart, esse bestows the author(s), once a year, 50% of the net sums received for the said text, plus a report on the source of the amounts.

The author(s) retain the right to receive his/her share of royalties payable to authors for reproduction of their texts, in virtue of agreements made with Copibec.

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