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Send your text (1,000 - 2,000 words, footnotes included) in US letter format (doc, docx, or rtf) to Please include a short biography (40 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. 97: Feature Appropriation
Before April 1, 2019

Contemporary art practices are constantly going outside the field of art to appropriate the codes, gestures, and mechanisms of other social and cultural spheres. In this issue, we wish to examine this expansion and the resulting borrowing, to consider different forms of appropriation in art: gestural, technical, political, economic, affective, ritual, etc. In an era where social media circulates signs at an accelerated rate, we tend to believe that the images disseminated in the public space belong to us all. Having entered a phase of “postproduction” (Nicolas Bourriaud), artistic creation cannot avoid this system of widespread recycling and exchange. The artist today is similar to a DJ composing with samples, more so than to a demiurge constantly creating new forms. The practice of appropriation, which is at the centre of many contemporary and current art movements (readymade, appropriationism, re-enactment, etc.), asks important questions about how we define work and artistic originality, as well as about authorship and copyright. Some of these questions are resolved in court (Richard Prince vs. Patrick Cariou, Jeff Koons vs. Jean-François Bauret), while others examine the boundaries of the art field itself (the exhibition Bootleg by Québécois artist John Boyle-Singfield or Kendell Geers’s reaction to Kader Attia’s plagiarism lawsuit filed against rappers Dosseh and Nekfeu).

Appropriation also involves the question of social responsibility with regards to artists and curators, particularly in recent debates around cultural appropriation. At a time of “the ethical turn of aesthetics” (Jacques Rancière), it is striking that the artists who have been criticized, rightly or wrongly, for carrying out a form of cultural appropriation, do not present themselves as adversaries but as allies of the cultures that they put on centre stage. Thanks to the “imagination” and “universal power” of art, such artists wish to make the greatest number of people aware of the injustices and suffering experienced by these marginalized groups. In turn, when these artists are questioned on the “ethics” of their engagement by representatives of these cultural groups or others, they feel it as a form of silencing.

We can see that challenges regarding appropriation—whether the appropriation is cultural or otherwise—are very often considered forms of censorship by the artists who experience them. Is this an acceptable argument with respect to the history of censorship and the sentences that some artists have received recently in authoritarian regimes (Pussy Riot, Oleg Sentsov, etc.)? Does the artists’ ethical commitment indemnify them against all forms of criticism? Is the autonomy of art and fiction the last bastion of artistic freedom against societal injunctions? Evoking Adorno’s defense of art’s autonomy, these questions are rarely addressed in considerations of art and politics and deserve to be newly examined. In any case, the aim of this issue is to take some distance from the polarization of the controversies so as to try to better understand what those show us about current artistic creation at the aesthetic, ethical, and political levels.

Esse arts + opinions invites writers and artists to propose essays that focus on questions of appropriation. How does the widespread practice of appropriation transform the artistic gesture? Are notions of authorship, work, artistic originality still relevant given the different forms of appropriation? Should copyright be amended to take into account appropriation as a creative gesture? How do artists who feel they are free to appropriate all forms and cultures justify themselves? What are the responsibilities of artists who work with appropriation? Is it possible to claim that cultural appropriation does not exist because cultures belong to everyone? Does all criticism of artistic appropriation come down to censorship? How does appropriation transform the relationship between art and politics? How can appropriation, as an artistic strategy, help to dismantle oppressive systems?

1. Esse arts + opinionsis a bilingual magazine focused mainly on contemporary art and multidisciplinary practices. Specializing in essays on issues in art today, the magazine publishes critical analyses that address art in relation to its context. Each issue contains a thematic section, portfolios of artworks, articles critiquing the international culture scene, and reviews of exhibitions, events, and publications. The platform also offers articles on contemporary art and an archive of previous issues of esse.

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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