Knowledge | esse arts + opinions


98 - Hiver 2020

How does art reinvent science, research, education, and their institutions? What type of knowledge does the artist produce? What role can exhibition curators play in finding spaces for knowledge sharing in our weakened societies? How is the museum positioned as a place of knowledge and learning at a time when the university is increasingly subject to the demands of economic profitability, and private financing? Esse arts + opinions’ issue 98 aims to answer these questions by proposing essays that problematize the connection between art and knowledge using contemporary artistic and curatorial practices.


Articles à la pièce

Mirna Boyadjian
Justin Langlois
Jérôme Dupeyrat
Ariane Lemieux
Oli Sorenson
Patrice Loubier
Austin Henderson
Nayla Naoufal


Shared Knowledge
Sylvette Babin


Decolonizing Knowledge and the Power of Becoming Common:
An Interview with Seloua Luste Boulbina
In this interview, philosopher Seloua Luste Boulbina discusses certain issues examined in her most recent book, Les miroirs vagabonds ou la décolonisation des savoirs (arts, littérature, philosophie), published by Presses du réel in 2018. In close continuity with her singular line of thought, this book highlights decolonization processes that aim to dismantle the colonial power matrix by exploring possibilities offered by the arts, literature, and philosophy.
[Translated from the French by Louise Ashcroft]

Mirna Boyadjian

Knowledge and Not-Knowledge Production in the Art School
What we define as knowledge defines where and when we see knowledge production and knowledge acquisition unfolding. In the context of an art school, this means that the infrastructural elements such as courses, classrooms, timetables, grades, workshops, and critiques are the frames through which we envision and enact what counts as knowledge. And yet, there are countless other experiences that disproportionately shape the learning environment of racialized, queer, poor, and disabled students that are not considered knowledge, expertise, or even a core part of the educational environment. In this essay, the author explores the implications of this reality, ultimately arguing that the contestation of power will define more meaningful and equitable art education for the future.

Justin Langlois

Teaching Each Other, Mediated by the World
Teaching and pedagogy are often associated with the image of a person facing a group and transmitting their knowledge in a more or less vertical manner to students who participate more or less (in)actively in their learning. In contrast to this approach, many artists interested in teaching and learning as art practices explore these two activities from the perspective of their porosity, even their reciprocity, within groups or communities of people that take the initiative together and exchange educational roles depending on the circumstances.
[Translated from the French by Oana Avasilichioaei]

Jérôme Dupeyrat

The Pedagogical Contribution of Sonia Boyce’s Intervention at the Manchester Art Gallery
In January 2018, the Manchester Art Gallery invited artist Sonia Boyce to intervene in the permanent collections during a “take over” event, the purpose of which was to show the museum in a new light through performance practices. Boyce’s creative process and the nature of her intervention in the permanent collections space make a unique contribution to the museum’s educational mission, the value of which lies in the formation of a critical gaze and the development of the ability to bring one’s own knowledge and experience to bear in the reading of images.
[Translated from the French by Ron Ross]

Ariane Lemieux

The Inexhaustible Surplus of Knowledge in Art Objects
Unfortunately, right-wing politicians have borrowed from the rhetoric of post-structuralism and postmodernism to argue that there is no such thing as objective truth. The fragmentation of traditional news sources and the emergence of social media have energized the proliferation of “information” outlets that deny the evidence of evolution, vaccines, and climate change. In the context of fake news, the investigative eye and mind of artists can reinstate the importance of direct encounters with objects, subjects, groups, societies, and phenomena that move and evolve freely outside our fallible watch.

Oli Sorenson

Pulling Up the Image, Going Back in Time: Reconstitution as Knowledge in Klaus Scherübel’s Work
In spring 2019, VOX presented a “curatorial and art intervention” by Klaus Scherübel, who reconstituted, in three dimensions, the hangings of Automatist exhibitions visible in two photographs taken by Maurice Perron in 1947. The diptych installation was presented simultaneously as part of two distinct streams of VOX’s programming: Créer à rebours vers l’exposition, a series of documentary presentations on significant contemporary art exhibitions in Québec, and the group exhibition Period Rooms. Scherübel’s project played a double role as artwork in its own right and as producer of research-based knowledge on two historical exhibitions. Through this work, Scherübel examined the role of the image and reconstitution in art history writing, driven by three motivations: to mimic the period room by altering its realistic effect and using a distancing strategy; to create reconstitutions whose realism is ambiguous and that combine the reproduction of the photographic image with that of its referent; and to appropriate paratextual elements otherwise associated with institutional discourse.
[Translated from the French by Oana Avasilichioaei]

Patrice Loubier

Kilo Hōkū: Hawaiian Wayfinding Resurfaced
The divide between art and education has become increasingly blurred in recent years. As disciplines are crossed, new spaces are created for knowledge to be shared. Hawaiian artist and researcher Kari Noe employs VR (virtual reality) in Kilo Hōkū (2017–ongoing), in which she invites users to experience open-ocean wayfinding, a practice that was largely obscured after annexation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States in 1898. Controlled by its user, this interactive platform reintroduces this historically and culturally significant navigational technique to Hawaiians and foreigners of all ages. The author suggests Noe’s practice creates spaces for learning about Hawaiian traditions and histories, and demonstrates the role of digital media in sharing cultural knowledge. Noe’s research was part of Waterways: Asian Indigenous Relations in Contemporary Art, from June 11 to September 11, 2019, in the Webster Library at Concordia University in Montréal. Noe was also one of the invited participants in the Global Asia/Pacific Exchange (June 11–15, 2019), co-organized by the Ethnocultural Art Histories Research Group at Concordia University and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University.

Austin Henderson

Landscape as Pedagogy: Dancing Sápmi
Gift of Stone, by the Norwegian Sámi choreographer Katarina Skår Lisa, is rooted in the cosmology and practices of her native Indigenous community, the Sea Sámis. Seeking a contemporary version of a vanished choreographic language, Skår Lisa explored what might constitute Sámi epistemology and methodology and their consequences for the modalities of artistic collaboration and choreographic writing.
[Translated from the French by Jo-Anne Balcaen]

Nayla Naoufal


Hannah Jickling & Helen Reed
Daniel Fiset

Cindy Mochizuki
Amelia Wong-Mersereau

Caroline Boileau
Elise Anne LaPlante

Pam Hall
Paul Couillard


En se savonnant
Michel F. Côté


Visual Arts

Phil Collins, Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain, Montréal by Dominique Sirois-Rouleau

Émilie Brout & Maxime Marion, La Chaufferie, HEAR, Strasbourg by Vanessa Morisset

Anna Maria Maiolino, Whitechapel Gallery, London, U.K. by Emily LaBarge

Nep Sidhu, Mercer Union, Toronto; Audain Gallery, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver; Esker Foundation, Calgary by Alex Bowron

Raphaëlle de Groot, Occurrence, Montréal by Daniel Fiset

Kathy Acker, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Londres, by Francis Desruisseaux

Sex Life: Homoeroticism in Drawing, SAW Gallery, Ottawa by Adam Barbu

Véronique Béland, Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke by Frédérique Renaud

Deanna Bowen, Art Museum at the University of Toronto by Adam Lauder

Clément de Gaulejac, Galerie UQO, Gatineau by Daniel Fiset


Art nomade, Le Lobe, Saguenay by Alain-Martin Richard


Shannon Bool. Bombshell, Musée d’art de Joliette, Centre culturel canadien de Paris, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Agnes Etherington Art Center by Sophie Drouin

Rita McKeough: Works, Emmedia Gallery & Production Society, M:ST Performative Art Festival, TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary by Didier Morelli

Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethics of Curating, Thames & Hudson by Louis Boulet

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