Call for papers | esse arts + opinions

Call for papers


Send your text in US letter format (doc, docx, or rtf) to, before January 10, 2021 (feature (Re)seeing Painting). Please include a short biography (35-45 words), an abstract of the text (80-100 words), as well as postal and email 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. 103: Feature Sportification
Before April 1, 2021

Amateur and professional sports have historically held a significant place in the realm of the arts. In every country where the pleasures and joys of athletic activity are celebrated on hockey rinks, basketball courts, soccer fields, and cricket pitches, artists and curators alike have delved into the material, thematic, and structural aspects of individual and team sports as a source for creation and critical reflection. Seeing through the playful and competitive prism of a jersey, a ball, a racket, a pool, or an athletic facility, numerous contemporary artists elucidate the intersections between the aesthetic and socio-political elements of sports, its practice, fandom, architectural scale, and broader culture.

Throughout the decades, as ardent supporters, observers, and/or participants, numerous painters and photographers have distorted familiar sporting scenes; sculptors and textile artists have transformed iconic equipment into new assemblages; performers have challenged the codes and conduct of play in various actions; and video artists turned the gaze back toward spectacle, mass media, and spectatorship. The hypervisibility of sports in the arts is a testament to its inherent political nature, to the kinesthetic appeal of moving bodies, to the choreographies of play, to the visual design of partisanship, and to the lure of victory and catharsis of loss.

Across the globe, where national identity, citizenship, and upbringing are often linked to observing and taking part in numerous athletic endeavours, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games loom as important periods of patriotic coalescence. In Canada, for example, tensions between the multinational quadrennial sporting event and the art world date back to the dismantling of Corridart in Montreal in 1976. Similarly, in Beijing (2008), London (2012), and Rio (2016), concerned arts communities have called attention to the modern Games’ creation of disproportionate public spending, real estate speculation and development, and forced resettlement, and their contribution to globalization and pollution. With the rescheduled 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, we ask how sporting events and culture continue to shape the landscape of contemporary art.

From Brian Jungen’s reconstituted Air Jordans, to Judy Anderson’s beaded moose-hide-and-otter-skin goalie mask that honours her son Riel, to Paul Pfeiffer’s meticulously edited mid-action montages, to Hannah Black’s meditation on sculpted bodybuilders flexing, sports can serve as connective tissue in the visual arts for understanding specific aesthetic movements while tending to ongoing discourses and issues. Contemporary BIPOC artists, those working with disabilities, and those belonging to LGBTQ+ communities and their allies have employed athletic activities, paraphernalia, gear, and stadiums as powerful symbols to illuminate the presence and perseverance of ableism, homophobia, racism, settler-colonialism, sexism, and transphobia. As cultural critic and sports writer Jennifer Doyle notes, in recent years combat sports and martial arts have asserted a strong presence in feminist and queer performance art practice. Across the spectrum, working in different mediums and media, artists and curators alike have found sports to be a rallying point, a space to denounce, commemorate, or rethink society.

The relationships between sports and contemporary art can be articulated in many forms. With this in mind, Esse arts + opinions invites authors to reflect expansively on sports as an aesthetic, political, cultural, and social phenomenon intimately linked to the visual and performing arts. What is the appeal of sports as a strongly graphic, dynamic, and affective event? How do artists capture the socio-political stakes and undertones of sports while shedding light on what is often portrayed as an apolitical arena? How is the cult of the super athlete similar to or dissimilar from that of the artist/hero visionary? What visual tropes, codes, and vocabularies of sporting culture have artists manipulated, and to what ends?

1. Published by Les éditions Esse, 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 3 sections:
Feature: essays between 1,500 and 2,000 words. The guideline regarding the theme is available online 4 to 6 months prior to the deadline:
Articles: essays, articles or interviews between 1,250 and 2,000 words (including notes).
Reviews: reviews of exhibitions, events or publications (maximum 500 words, without footnotes, or 950 words, with one or two footnotes maximum). You can find guidelines for reviews here:

3. With the exception of the expressed consent of Les éditions Esse, the writer agrees to submit a previously unpublished, original text.

4. All articles are reviewed by the Editorial 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. 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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