Call for papers


Send your text (1,000 - 2,000 words, footnotes included) in US letter format (doc, docx, or rtf) to before April 1, 2017. 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).

Before September 1, 2017

The word “democracy” suggests an open, modern society based on equality, yet as a concept and as mode of government, it is marked by many inconsistencies. Far from being stable, democracy requires an ongoing process of negotiation and, in its radical form, of "agonism”, to use Chantal Mouffe’s term. Notions of the individual, his or her rights and responsibilities towards others, community, freedom and participation need to be constantly interrogated and reasserted. Democracy is thus a very complex and conflicted concept that has been subject to many changes in its relatively short history. Yet the four forms - classical, republican, liberal and direct - share two basic principles: first, that power represents a majority and second, that minorities are protected, supported and encouraged to reach power. In principle, the seat of power is "empty" in a democracy and the majority constantly prepares for its own abdication. As soon as politicians fail to protect minorities, democracy breaks down.

But in reality, there are many mechanisms in place to keep the most destitute in a weakened position and reduce their opportunities for civic participation. For this reason, and given the current imbrication of democracy with neo-liberal and neo-national policies, the viability of democracy is on everyone's minds. With the growing success of populist politicians and the return of authoritarian regimes in Europe and elsewhere, human rights are being compromised and it has been suggested that democracy is on the retreat. But democracy is not only associated with utopian political visions; it is also associated with neo-liberal incursions and military interventions that are launched in its name. In light of these contradictions, it is imperative to ask, what is at stake in the global glorification of democracy as the only legitimate model of politics? Especially considering that the current model of democracy reduces the participation of individuals to infrequent elections? According to the political scientist David Held, none of the four democratic forms even stand a chance of survival in a globalized world, precisely because of the inequalities they continue to foster.

This issue of esse proposes a critical reflection on the concept of democracy in order to explore its inherent contradictions and its real lived fallout, as well as the role that art can play within it. Can art help radicalize democracy and make it resilient? Can art experiment with and help establish alternative democratic forms that are fit for both the local and the global? Its seems widely accepted that culture is now run by a market rationality and the odd voice of protest is dismissed as being naive or unrealistic. But can contemporary art adopt a different stance, one that strikes at the heart of politics? Can it mobilize "dismeasures" and avant-garde "transgressions" in order to motivate civil involvement and create possibilities for political opposition?

Esse calls for papers about contemporary art practices that investigate these concerns, as well as others, including but not limited to: the role of the media - the 4th pillar of democracy - and the free press; the clash between the individual and the community; the growing gap between the layman and the politician; the influence of economic lobby groups and NGOs; the refugee crisis and problem of immigration; public surveillance on a massive scale and the invasion of individual privacy; political identity, representation and constitutional protection; and the urgency of consensus as well as its risks. Artists and cultural institutions can function as catalysts, mediators, facilitators and designers of a world that is more equitable and just - can't they?

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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