Conflict | esse arts + opinions


96 - Printemps / été 2019

What forms of discourse emerge from art practices and works that deal with war and conflict? Is there a narrative stance that is particular to works and exhibitions that narrate, criticize, or analyze conflict? And by extension, since conflict is not limited to wars, how do artists and curators bear witness to social unrest, struggles, and the inequalities derived from racism and colonialism? These are some of the questions that issue 96 addresses.

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Articles à la pièce

Mirna Boyadjian
Heather Rigg
Marie-Hélène Leblanc
Nadia Kurd
Nika Timashkova
Gwynne Fulton


The Warring Society: Conflict Pervades the Everyday
Sylvette Babin


Crisis of Presence in Times of Civil War
According to Maurizio Lazzarato and Éric Alliez, the “global civil war” advanced by Hannah Arendt and Carl Schmitt in the 1960s is transformed through contemporary financialization—and the debt economy—into overlapping civil wars (wars of class, race, and sex, among others) whose matrix is colonial war, or a war amongst and against the population. This embodied experience of war leads us to consider war less as a voluntarily waged battle than as a struggle fought at the heart of existence—a life marked by war. Since colonization, the material and immaterial destruction that determines how biopower invests spiritual and biological life in the interest of maintaining the global capitalist machine has manifested itself in a “crisis of presence.” How do artists confer coherence or a visibility-readability plan capable of activating infrapolitical resistance to this existential drama?
[Translated from the French by Louise Ashcroft]
Mirna Boyadjian

Disrupting Authoritarian Performance Through Bodily Resistance
Heather Rigg analyzes Lauren Berlant’s concept of ‘authoritarian performance’ as found in her essay “Austerity, Precarity, Awkwardness” (2011). Rigg suggests that by treating both authoritarian oppression and its resistance as performance, Berlant opens up the idea of a poetics of resistance that gives primacy to the body and its expression. Rigg supports her argument by providing descriptive analysis of Berlant’s essay and Liza Johnson’s short film In The Air (2009), in comparison with Annie MacDonell’s multi-channel video installation Holding Still // Holding Together (2016), placing emphasis on the role of ‘collective gesture’ in both works.
Heather Rigg

Borrowing Images of War
In contemporary art practice concerned with conflict and war, is there not a convergence between image-driven war reporting and the images used by artists to create artworks? The author analyzes the links among war, the media, and art practice through a corpus of works by Aernout Mik, Omer Fast, Rabih Mroué, and Leila Zelli.
[Translated from the French by Louise Ashcroft]
Marie-Hélène Leblanc

Representing the Kashmir Conflict in Contemporary Art
In this essay, Nadia Kurd examines the work of Canadian artists in relation to the Kashmir conflict and the 1947 Partition of South Asia. Citing the work of Rachel Kalpana James, Divya Mehra, and Althea Thauberger, the author argues that the conflict they address in their work presents an image of the region that goes beyond both historical and contemporary media depictions. Instead, these artists’ works tease out the conflict to express a more personal experience informed by regional politics. Conflict is certainly a focal point in understanding Kashmir, but it isn’t a shorthand way of coming to terms with the region’s long and complicated history.
Nadia Kurd

Sign Wars: Wearing the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Contemporary civil wars, as forms of political and economic conflict, are increasingly mediated and take place through a wild and dense display of symbols. In Russia and Ukraine, the process of reforming national identity is unfolding politically and economically in response to a geopolitical conflict in which land claims are linked to ideology. This paper looks at issues of nationalism and cultural appropriation by focusing on the use of communist symbols by fashion designers Gosha Rubchinskiy (Russia) and Yulia Yefimtchuk (Ukraine). It situates their work within the contexts of post-Soviet aesthetics and global capitalism, while drawing attention to their differences.
Nika Timashkova

Our Song to War — Conversation with Juanita Onzaga
In this short conversation, Gwynne Fulton speaks with Colombian-Belgian filmmaker Juanita Onzaga about her experimental documentary film Our Song to War (2018). Invoking the lost souls of the dead killed in the crossfire between left-wing guerrillas and state-sanctioned paramilitary forces in the remote town of Bojayá, in the Chocó jungle, Our Song offers a haunting vision of a town seeking peace in the wake of war. Fulton and Onzaga touch on themes of memory and the politics of mourning, Afro-Colombian resistance, and syncretic rituals that assume responsibility for the dead of the Colombian armed conflict.
Gwynne Fulton


Martin Bureau
by Patrice Loubier

Gohar Dashti
by Claudia Polledri

Emily Jacir
by Amelia Wong-Mersereau

Hajra Waheed
by Béatrice Cloutier-Trépanier

Michael Love
by Sylvie Lacerte


“What’s in the frame and what’s out”: Storytelling, Representation, and Black Quiet in Aleesa Cohene’s I Don’t Get It
Aleesa Cohene’s video-based exhibition I Don’t Get It explores issues of race and the representation of people of colour in Hollywood cinema. Her methodology involves the collecting and editing together of hundreds of film clips in order to construct “composite characters” and new narratives. Using this strategy in her latest work, Cohene creates a black composite character who transcends the stereotypical roles typically offered black actors.
Zoë Chan

Carolee Schneemann: Posthumanist Pioneer
Carolee Schneemann firmly secured her spot in the history of art over twenty years ago. Her 1960s ground-breaking performances forever changed how we look at art and the female body. But she made an unsung and equally important contribution through her pioneering desire to challenge the anthropocentric order — something that she repeatedly explored through her filmic and photographic work focusing on intimate acts shared with feline companions. Three decades ago, Schneemann’s explorations of interspecies vulnerability and affect lay the foundations for subversive modes of perception that are only today becoming relevant in contemporary art.
Giovanni Aloi


Déconflitures QI
Michel F. Côté


Arts visuels

Theaster Gates, Palais de Tokyo, Paris by Nathalie Desmet

Computer Grrrls, Gaîté Lyrique, Paris by Vanessa Morisset

Joins, Cell Project Space, London, U.K. by Emily LaBarge

Unvanishing Traces, Xpace Cultural Centre, Toronto by Ricky Varghese

Serge Clément, Occurence, Montréal by Sophie Bertrand

Cheryl Pagurek, Patrick Mikhail, Montréal, by Dominique Sirois-Rouleau

François Quévillon, Expression, Saint-Hyacinthe by Louise Boisclair

Luigi Ghirri, Jeu de Paume, Paris by Camille Paulhan

Carl Marin, AxeNéo7, Gatineau by Julia Roberge Van Der Donckt

Arts de la scène

Guérilla de l’ordinaire, Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, Montréal by Julie-Michèle Morin

Daina Ashbee, La MaMa, New York by Didier Morelli


Libre DHC/ART, Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain by Sophie Drouin

Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being, Book*hug Press & Artspeak by Amber Berson

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