92 - Hiver 2018

This issue 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. By bringing together multiple, open, and possibly divergent positions, the feature section addresses the urgent need to better understand art’s role in the current political context in order to potentially foster a desire to participate in a new democracy.

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Articles à la pièce

Marc James Léger
Konstantinos Koutras
Anik Fournier
Claudia Mesch
Justine Kohleal
Didier Morelli
Georges Didi-Huberman


Reassuring Democracy
Sylvette Babin


Democracy Without Guarantees
The crises of contemporary democracy are also a problem for contemporary art in the context of the purported end of ideology. Progressive cultural practices have been challenged in recent years by the resurgence of right-wing political parties and the countercultural movements of the alt-right. The article argues that if we are to save what is worthwhile in liberal democracy, we must support emancipatory leftist practices. Political and artistic avant-gardes are proposed that could break with the conditions that call them into being.

Marc James Léger

Democratic Art
The threat to democracy posed by rampant inequality and the revival of political authoritarianism has us asking whether art can play a role in defending democratic values. Drawing on the philosophy of Jacques Rancière, the author suggests that critical art is predicated on a pedagogical motive that is incompatible with democracy. He makes the argument that art can be democratic only on the basis of a radical egalitarianism, according to which it both accepts its own insufficiencies and refuses to anticipate its effects.

Konstantinos Koutras

The Gift of Listening: From Speakers to Listening Agents
There has been a persistent privileging of speaking over listening in the work of political theorists, and of democratic theorists in particular. In this essay, Fournier propose various practices of listening as an attitude that speaks of the opportunity for a democratic practice to come. Different modes of listening are manifest in initiatives occurring outside conventional democratic institutions. In what follows, the author focus primarily on a few recent examples found in art projects.

Anik Fournier

Probing the Body Politic: Limits, Memory, and Anxiety in Art after Democracy Can no Longer be Assumed
Democracy continues to be a lingering preoccupation for documenta. Among other points of emphasis, the 2017 documenta foregrounded both historical and emerging artists engaged with democracy in dynamic ways. Many experimented with realizing a kind of democracy effect or critical thinking about the shifting communities of which we are part during an era of instability and globalization backlash. Others enabled the witnessing of moments of democracy in decline. Yet the complicated curatorial and artistic exchanges that documenta staged between these venues were equally compelling, as they offered a microcosm of current economic, aesthetic, and geopolitical inequalities between a major E.U. power and the “debtor nation” of Greece that it helped to create.

Claudia Mesch

(Re)Negotiating Every. Now. Then’s Invisible Centre: Institutional White Spatiality
In this essay, the author examines why an exhibition such as Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s response to Canada 150, has such a distinctly white “tone” despite the inclusion of a majority of black, Indigenous, and Southeast Asian artists. She links the exhibition’s lack of a curatorial centre to the concept of white spatiality, defined by educators Eunsong Kim and Maya Isabella Mackrandilal as “presence without provocation.” In so doing, she questions how white spatiality can be addressed to effectively force a reconsideration of the AGO’s institutional space and resources.

Justine Kohleal

To Walk Together: Democracy in Movement?
In recent years, Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (1927–2004) has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in reputable international institutions around the world. Pape is best known for her iconic performance Divisor (1968), in which a collective body formed of individual performers bound together by a large white sheet navigated the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Her work resonates with today’s global social climate by evoking the surveillance of military dictatorship through oblique criticism. Reperformances of Divisor for exhibition purposes have complicated Pape’s original premise, however, raising important questions about the piece’s subversive political nature in a contemporary context.

Didier Morelli

Multitudes, Swarms, Communities
Starting from several of Spinoza’s famous propositions, the author briefly investigates the notion of “multitude” and comments on what Frédéric Lordon and Antonio Negri have contributed to the subject. Following an examination and critique of the notion of “swarm,” the author then returns to “community” as conceptualized by Jean-Luc Nancy, proposing that we not abandon the notion of “peoples”—provided that we place it in the plural.
[Translated from the French by Oana Avasilichioaei]

Georges Didi-Huberman


Sayeh Sarfaraz
Serious Frivolity and the Impermanence of Power
Laurent Lacotte
In the Public Realm
Collectif d’artistes
on ne répond pas à la question – contre toute attente, on procède
Mo Yi
Commemorating a Social Truth
Kader Attia
The Urgency of Debate
Cynthia Girard-Renard
A Polyphonic Community


Ouvrir la voix d’Amandine Gay : une mise en perspective des enjeux du Black Feminism
Le documentaire Ouvrir la voix d’Amandine Gay soulève de nombreux enjeux en ce qui a trait aux luttes afroféministes en contexte européen. Notre article propose d’explorer les différentes problématiques abordées dans ce film : l’intersectionnalité des oppressions raciste et sexiste, la marginalisation de la parole des femmes noires, les stéréotypes, les microagressions, mais aussi la nécessité de l’autodéfinition, le pouvoir de l’éducation et l’empowerment en tant que stratégies de survie quotidienne et collective. Nous chercherons donc à lier les enjeux de ce film à certains aspects de la pensée féministe noire étatsunienne telle qu’elle a notamment été théorisée par Patricia Hill Collins.

Paola Ouedraogo

Karen Tam: With wings like clouds hung from the sky 大鵬就振翼
Karen Tam’s exhibition With wings like clouds hung from the sky 大鵬就振翼 builds on the premise that Lee Nam, a Chinese immigrant artist mentioned briefly in Emily Carr’s book The House of All Sorts deserves our attention. The article look at how Tam responds to the question: How do you talk about an artist about whom there exists very little information? The author explores Tam’s artistic approach, which includes collaboration, participation, and play to address histories of discrimination and orientalism within a Canadian context.

Zoë Chan

De choses et d’autres : Subsistances – Inniun de Raphaëlle de Groot
Le projet Subsistances – Inniun, présenté par Raphaëlle de Groot à l’été 2017 dans le cadre du projet Repères2017/Landmarks2017, soulève certains enjeux néomatérialistes. L’artiste invite à repenser notre relation au monde matériel à travers l’accumulation et la mise en récits d’objets récoltés pendant une résidence d’un an dans la réserve de parc national de l’Archipel-de-Mingan. Les artéfacts, recueillis et dument documentés par l’artiste, révèlent la relation privilégiée de leur propriétaire au territoire minganois ; inversement, ils nous renseignent aussi sur la capacité de la matière à entrer en relation avec l’humain, voire à constituer une partie intégrante de ce que nous sommes.

Anne-Marie Dubois


Michel F. Côté et Catherine Lavoie-Marcus


Louis-Philippe Côté, Dérives et replis ; Jean-Sébastien Denis, Extensions, décalages et propos ambigus sur la plasticité, Montréal by Dominique Sirois-Rouleau

Quart d’heure américain, Saint-Ouen by Vanessa Morisset

Hannah Black, Some Context, London, U.K. by Emily LaBarge

Gilberto Esparza, Plantas autofotosintéticas, Montréal by Teva Flaman & Pierre-Luc Verville

Agnès Geoffray, Before the eye lid’s laid, Pontault-Combault by Nathalie Desmet

Rachel Whiteread, London, U.K. by Emily LaBarge

Philippe Hamelin, Carnations, Montréal by Nathalie Bachand

Ville multiple, Maison de la culture Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, Montréal by Nuria Carton de Grammont

Laurent Lamarche, La Nuée, Laval by Emmanuelle Choquette

How deep is your love?, Toronto by Alex Bowron

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