82 - Automne 2014

Theme : 

 Are we living in a time when capitalism holds total sway over art production? Is the spectacle synonymous with alienation of the individual? Are there any positive aspects to this spectacularization of culture to compensate? The next issue of esse examines new forms of the spectacle by observing its different manifestations on today’s society, and particularly in the contemporary art field, in which the appeal of the spectacular is increasingly unrelenting.


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Articles à la pièce

Elisabeth Fritz
Trevor Stark
Jen Kennedy
Matthew Ryan Smith
Jean-Philippe Uzel
Vanessa Morisset
Edith Brunette


The Appeal of the Spectacular


Toward a Critical Mode of Spectacularity: Thoughts on a Terminological Review
The text criticizes a prevailing, yet unquestioned and undifferentiated usage of the term “spectacle” in contemporary art critique as defined by Guy Debord in La Société du Spectacle. In contrast it proposes a more neutral and descriptive terminology that focuses on the typical characteristics of its reception, such as affect, ambivalence, diversion and pleasure. It is proposed that such an understanding is especially important for analyzing contemporary video installation artworks that use spectacularity and theatricality to find alternative modes for the representation and participation of “others” (Phil Collins, Danica Dakić, Omer Fast, Aernout Mik, Gillian Wearing).

Spectacle, Communication, and the End of Art
This essay investigates the place of art within the critique of spectacle developed by Guy Debord during his time as founder and sole permanent member of the Situationist International (1957–1972). It argues that the Situationist trope of the “end of art” is more than a utopian relic, and, in fact, cuts to the core of the relationship between art and politics in Debord’s work. Revealing Debord’s inheritance from a lineage beginning with Hegel and extending through Dada, the “end of art” also offers a means to rethink the role of communication, community, and subjectivity in Situationist thought—and its potential for the present. 

A détournement of détournement, this essay turns a component part of Situationist International’s theory of “the spectacle” back on itself to analyze the collective’s formulation of desire, its obsession with young, utterly contemporary women, and the legacies of these aspects on their praxis today.

Hennessy Youngman and the New Art Criticism
Jayson Musson created his alter ego, Hennessy Youngman, in 2010 and began to post satirical video responses to issues in the art world under the title ART THOUGHTZ. Since then, he has amassed over 1,350,000 viewers and 11,500 loyal subscribers. Though the ART THOUGHTZ series contains elements of performance, it is a practice based both critically and comedically in art criticism. Musson has essentially reconceptualized the polemics of recent art criticism while demonstrating that user-generated internet media holds potential for generating alternative art criticism to different viewers and communities.

Spectacularization in Contemporary Aboriginal Art
The large-scale spectacles that were instituted during the nineteenth century (world fairs, circuses, cinema, and so on) took the figure of the Indian as a central character. Today, a number of contemporary Aboriginal artists (Kent Monkman, Edgar Heap of Birds, Robert Houle, Nigit’Stil, David Garneau, and Terrance Houle) are trying to expose what was behind the scenes: these shows took place at the very moment when extremely repressive assimilation policies were being instituted. Thus, what was being put on display far and wide was precisely what every attempt was being made to wipe out.

Exhausting the Spectacular in Nicolas Boone
Can one make art after having read Guy Debord? His diagnosis of a culture drowned in “spectacular contemplation” and of an art that must, if it is not to lose its soul, set up its own “dissolution” and “supersession” in the political sphere, certainly seems like an impasse. Given this situation, theoreticians and artists seek ways to escape the impasse, summoning, for instance, the hedonistic concept, entertained by generations of thinkers, of the world as a stage. The films of Nicolas Boone also engage with the Debordian problem, but they take a less optimistic view: gore and collective folly seem to be the only way out.

In the Shadows of the Floodlights: DARE-DARE at Quartier des spectacles
Since 2012, artist-run centre DARE-DARE has taken up residence and been active in the environs of Quartier des spectacles. At the time of the centre’s first intervention on site—Anne-Marie Ouellet’s Secondes zones project—these entities proved to have conflicting expectations. In light of Ouellet’s project, this essay examines the growing tensions—tensions that reach far beyond Quartier des spectacles—between a vision of culture as an economic engine and a commitment to forms of art that are deeply rooted in research but whose effects are difficult to quantify. In this light, Quartier des spectacles appears to be the visible tip of the current cultural policy iceberg. 


Rémi Beaupré, Simon Brown, Daniel Canty, Marc-Antoine K. Phaneuf, Soufïa Bensaïd, Cynthia Girard, Carl Trahan, Jeanne Painchaud, Viviane Namaste, Nicole Brossard, Isabelle Lamarre / Bruno Mainville, Hélène Matte, Sylvie Laliberté, Geneviève Amyot


Classic Fake-Out: Joshua Schwebel at Articule
In 2012, articule accepted a dossier from Micah Lexier. While the committee agreed that Lexier’s proposal seemed somehow incomplete, they conceded that based on previous knowledge of the artist’s work the risk of programming it was minimal. Shortly following this, articule received a letter from Joshua Schwebel stating that Schwebel had in fact proposed a fake project to articule under Lexier’s name, as a means to investigate whether “reputation would outweigh a really weak proposal.” The show went on at articule, morphing into a complex exhibition about reputation and quality within artist-run centres. 

La manifestation interdite de l’art à l’œuvre
Janvier 2013. L’artiste John Boyle-Singfield décide de fermer son exposition Bootleg, présentée à la galerie Espace Virtuel. Il proposait une appropriation totale mais trafiquée de l’exposition qui l’avait précédé dans la programmation. Cependant, l’acte d’appropriation a été refusé par certains artistes concernés. Grand cas a été fait de la fermeture de l’exposition, mais peu se sont préoccupés de l’œuvre en action dont le spectateur était privé. À rebours des jeux de discours et de croyances, nous nous penchons sur le ballet idéologique qui a découlé de l’interdiction, de manière à révéler les véritables enjeux de l’énonciation artistique de Bootleg

Habilitation au récit
À travers l’étude de trois projets de la photographe Natascha Niederstrass (L’affaire de Camden Town, Déconstruction d’une tragédie et The Missing Week), l’auteur s’intéresse à la place qu’occupent les questions du récit en photographie dans la production récente de l’artiste. Par l’analyse des stratégies plastiques et des mises en exposition déployées, il met en évidence l’oscillation des œuvres entre les domaines du fait divers et de l’art contemporain, ce qui les rend, d’une part, accessibles à un vaste public, sans que cela nuise, d’autre part, à une recherche plastique rigoureuse.


The Flayed Tree: Rethinking the Ethics of Care and Responsability in Berlinde De Bruyckere’s Cripplewood


Comme j’en parlais avant de mourir


New York | New Museum, Ragnar Kjartansson, Me, My Mother, My Father, and I par Dominique Sirois-Rouleau
Victoria | Deluge Contemporary Art, Edgardo Aragón: Ley Fuga par Toby Lawrence
Ottawa | Galerie SAW, F is for Fake : L’art, le cinéma et le faux par Aurélie Vandewynckele
Montréal | DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jake & Dinos Chapman: Come and See par Joseph Henry
Montréal | Galerie Leonard et Bina Ellen, (Sightings), Marc-Antoine K. Phaneuf, Peinture canadienne par Andréanne Roy
Toronto | Scrap Metal Gallery, Eva Kotátková par Caoimhe Morgan-Feir
Longueuil | terrain de football du Centre sportif Montpetit, Détruire, nous allons par Christian Saint-Pierre
Marseille | Astérides, Friche la Belle de Mai, Pop-up par Nathalie Desmet
Noisiel | Centre d’art contemporain de la Ferme du Buisson, Gail Pickering, Near Real Time par Vanessa Morisset

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