Call for papers


Send your text (1,000 - 2,000 words, footnotes included) in US letter format (doc, docx, or rtf) to before January 10, 2018. 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). An acknowledgement of receipt will be sent within 7 days of the deadline. If you have not been notified, please contact us to ensure your text has been received.

No 93: Feature Sketch
Before January 10, 2018

What is a sketch? The most obvious answer is a rough or unfinished drawing or painting. In French, however, the word for sketch—esquisse—has a figurative sense that is largely missing from English. For example, one’s face might “sketch” a smile as a hint of emotion, while a “sketched” gesture implies a certain subtlety or hesitation. On the other hand, the English word “sketch” has a theatrical significance that is absent from French, as it also refers to a short, humorous play or performance. At the heart of both words, however, lie questions of process, fluidity, and spontaneity.

In a fine-art context, sketches were originally considered the building blocks of a finished composition. First produced on parchment or tablets made of wood, slate, or wax, they were almost uniquely associated with painting until technological advances in paper production, as well as the invention of tools such as pencils, made them both common and affordable. Although, during the Renaissance, sketches were valued as a means of invention and play, it was not until the early modern period that they began to be viewed as the spontaneous expression of the artist’s individuality. In The Salon of 1765, for example, Jacques Diderot notes, “drawings frequently have a fire that the finished paintings lack; they’re the moment of the artist’s zeal, his pure verve, undiluted by any carefully considered preparation, they’re the painter’s soul freely transferred to canvas.” If early modernist theories tended to frame the sketch as an expression of the artist’s temperament or character, later ones also placed it in the context of medium specificity by emphasizing line, immediacy, and the relationship of contrasts. Starting in the 1960s, conceptual artists subverted both paradigms through the creation of process and instruction-based art, which blurred boundaries between disciplines and challenged the authority of the artist’s hand. More recently, the element of chance in these methods has appealed to artists inspired by the work of French theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, whose concept of “lines of flight” privileges bolts of creative energy that shake up the social and artistic status quo. Such thinking assigns a liberatory function to sketching, which becomes a performative action—at odds with a professionalized and bureaucratised art world—that seeks to resist oppression through the sheer force of spontaneous invention. Today, the idea of a sketch encompasses a wide-range of strategies and concerns, including site-specificity, appropriation, impermanence, accumulation, hybridity, performance, social practice, and non-Western and Indigenous engagements with the discipline of drawing.

Esse arts + opinions invites authors and artists to submit essays that engage with the idea of the "sketch" from diverse perspectives and schools of thought, including abstraction, formalism, conceptualism, comic forms (satire, caricature, and burlesque), performance, social practice, identity politics, and activist art. Essays that investigate the material history of the sketch as a means of describing contemporary phenomenon, or that examine it in relation to the body or sites of political engagement are also welcome. Above all, we wish authors to engage with the potentialities harboured within the idea of the sketch. What is its role in art today? What can it tell us that more finished or polished works cannot? How is the process of sketching used in collaborative art or social practice? What are its ideological underpinnings? These are some of the questions esse hopes this issue will address.

1. 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.

2. Submissions are accepted three times a year: January 10, April 1 and September 1. The texts can be submitted for one of the following 4 sections:
Feature: essays between 1,000 and 2,000 words (including notes). The guideline regarding the theme is available online 4 to 6 months prior to the deadline:
Articles: essays, articles or interviews between 1,000 and 1,500 words (including notes).
Short Reviews: reviews of exhibitions, events or publications (maximum 500 words, without footnotes).
Long Reviews: reviews of exhibitions or events (maximum 950 to,1 000 words, without footnotes).

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

4. All articles are reviewed by the Board, which reserves the right to accept or refuse a submitted article. Selection criteria are based on the quality of the analyze and writing, the relevance of the text in the issue (in regards to the theme) and on the relevance of the chosen artworks and artists. A text can also be rejected due to the very high volume of submissions for a specific issue. 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.

5. 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).

6. The writers whose pieces are selected commit to format their text according to the typographic standards of esse, following the guidelines sent to them with the publishing contract.

7. With the 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.

8. 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.

9. All costs of typographical correction of the author's text shall be borne by esse except the author's corrections, if applicable, which shall be borne by the author.

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