Taking a Stance

85 - Automne 2015

Few critics have yet dared to challenge the intellectual power assumed by certain institutions and forums that shape artistic trends and condition the discourses. esse opens the debate on the forms and conditions at play when taking a critical stance in the world of contemporary art today. What does art criticism imply in today’s context?

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Articles à la pièce

Jae Emerling & Donald Preziosi
Steve Lyons
Lina Malfona
Maxime Coulombe
Chari Larsson
Alexandre David
Séverine Cauchy
Maeve Hanna
Amber Berson

Taking a Stance

Feature: Taking a Stance

Kunstgriff: Art as Event, Not Commodity
We argue that what we need now is for the rest of us—the audience for art, the masses of (non)consumers and owners—to own up to our silence and our clichéd rationales for why art matters. What forces motivate and compel our relation ship with artworks if not capital? We assert that we must recollect why we need art ontologically, ethically, and politically in order to counter this return to objets d'art from works of art. And we ask, why are we encouraged to forget that artworks, that it undertakes the aesthetic and epistemic labour of defacing and queering anything posited as "natural" or "given"? For us, this is the essential aspect of art's vitality: creating shared, open, immanent worlds. It is art as event, not as commodity.
Jae Emerling & Donald Preziosi

Fashionably Late
How can we describe the promotional apparatus for radical theory today? And why have numerous political theorists emerging from the student movements of 1968 found themselves travelling the global circuit of art fairs, biennales, and art magazines in the past decade?This article zeroes in on two encounters between Artforum and Semiotext(e), questioning why Artforum, a magazine best known for its girth and its glossy ads for blue-chip commercial galleries, may have been bit by the Semiotext(e) bug, and what this new and powerful promotional apparatus for radical theory may tell us about the present conditions under which theorists must work.
Steve Lyons

Critical Distances
In recent times, it seems as if the heroic figure of the critic has been recycled into the more captivating profile of the exhibition curator, the event producer, the showman, the blogger. Has the role of the architectural critic disappeared for good, or has it adapted to contemporary pressures, urgencies, and fashions, thus embodying all their contradictions? What is the role of criticism today? Should it record the current situation or psychoanalyze and dissect the critiqued object and then transfigure it? Several approaches to criticism – which correspond to different ways of looking at architecture – are discussed.
Lina Malfona

Resemblance, Doubt, and Ruin
Research in cognitive science and the psychology of perception over the past fifty years confirms what this essay aims to demonstrate: that resemblance exists and constitutes one of the mechanisms for perceiving reality. Yet, this confirmation of common sense and these conclusions in the realms of psychology, biology, and cognitive science have been largely ignored or rejected by much of art history. For the past forty years, the discipline has witnessed a proliferation of discourses denying resemblance, including the attacks of relativism. This article reflects on the fear of resemblance in art history, and, more specifically, on the trauma caused by post-structuralism that made taboo any position confirming the semiotic specificity of the image.
Maxime Coulombe

When Images Take a Position: Didi-Huberman's Brechtian Intervention
The question of the political efficacy of images has resurged in recent years in the wake of footage from the World Trade Center attacks, images from Abu Ghraib, and, more recently, the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. French philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman has claimed that it is necessary for images to take a position. This essay examines the historical context of Didi-Huberman's claim and its contemporary relevancy. Consideration will be given to British artist Steve McQueen's Queen and Country (2007–09).
Chari Larsson

Critical Art, Critical Sense, and Receptivity
This essay examines critical thinking in relation to the experience of art. My argument specifically addresses a problem that occurs when the emancipatory potential of critical thinking is subject to a general ethical requirement that traverses the whole field of art, from our experience of artworks to the discourse in which we participate. The experience thus risks conforming to an agreed critical attitude. Instead, I propose a receptivity that integrates a more supple critical approach, adapted to the singularity of each situation.
Alexandre David

Reel-Unreel, by Francis Alÿs
In Reel-Unreel, Francis Alÿs films children playing in the streets of Kabul. The young Afghans have exchanged their usual hoops for film reels. Underlying this fable is another story, one that is political, religious, and economic: the history of a country at war and dealing with issues of curtailed freedom and the destruction of a form of memory, that of cinema. Reel-Unreel takes a stance: it is an act of resistance that does not stake out a fixed position, but, in the frenetic energy of children's mad dash, prompts us to think.
Séverine Cauchy

Indigenous Voices and white pedagogy
In Indigenous Voices and white pedagogy I would like to question the position that white curatorial voices presume in the contemporary art field regarding the work of First Nation artists. As a white curator, I want to use my voice, educated under a regime of white pedagogy, to question the validity of my position. I attempt to unravel what I see as a form colonialism that still exists in Canadian art institutions in this essay, which I see as a discussion, inquiry, and reflection rather than an academic analysis. After describing the context of an exhibition I worked on with First Nation artists, I name a series of well-known exhibitions that feature work by First Nations artists as a way of indicating the trend, and I cite different voices who are affected by this question.
Maeve Hanna

Self-Determination When Cash Rules Everything Around Us
Artist-run centres were set up as alternatives to museums and private galleries. Today, they are vibrant community spaces, which produce and display some of the most important artistic output in Canada, much of which eventually comes to represent the nation on an international level. Artist-run centres cannot afford to not accept funding from councils and increasingly, from private corporations and foundations. However, art workers and artists cannot afford to produce work that reflects the agenda of donors and funding bodies. What strategies are in place or can be developed to make the current conditions more open to flourishing, and how can artist-run centres alter their blueprint to build a future better aligned with their values?
Amber Berson



The Weeping Wall: The Mendieta Case
In this article, Anaïs Castro looks at the interventions of a group of feminist artists and activists called the No Wave Performance Task Force that intervened at the retrospective exhibitions of Carl Andre at the Dia Foundation in Chelsea and in Beacon, New York. The group's innovative interventions have successfully turned attention to Ana Mendieta, Andre's wife, who met a tragic fate in September 1985.
Anaïs Castro

L'iconographie queer de Dorothée Smith : Löyly et Sub Limis
Cet essai s'intéresse à la pratique artistique de Dorothée Smith et plus précisément aux séries photographiques Löyly et Sub Limis, dont certaines images sont actuellement présentées au Couvent des Jacobins, à Toulouse, dans le cadre de l'exposition Étonnantes affinités organisée pour les 40 ans de la Galerie du Château d'eau. À partir de l'esthétique éthérée et diaphane de Smith, où les états liminaux de la nature répondent à des corps androgynes et abstraits en des jeux d'analogies formelles et conceptuelles, le texte met en lumière le pouvoir dénaturalisant des représentations queers. Par le truchement des concepts d'imprésentabilité (Lyotard) et de mélancolie du genre (Butler), l'iconographie queer de Smith concourt à stimuler de nouveaux regards en histoire de l'art.
Anne-Marie Dubois

Drift par VSVSVS : l'art de l'utopie concrète
L'article propose une réflexion critique sur l'exposition Drift de VSVSVS présentée comme projet de résidence au Centre Bang, à Chicoutimi. En mettant l'accent sur le mode de fonctionnement du groupe d'artistes torontois, je constate, au cœur de l'expérience des œuvres, une manière d'être ensemble : une utopie concrète créée par les artistes. Le rapport commandé par les œuvres est ludique, mais l'engagement qu'elles suscitent, lui, est sérieux. Par leur travail, qui s'érige en mode de vie, les VSVSVS mettent en valeur une liberté qui ne peut se réaliser autrement que par la reconnaissance de la dépendance aux autres : une liberté ancrée dans le « faire ensemble ».
Paule Mackrous

Flux, David Altmejd
Ariane De Blois

Jon Rafman
Oli Sorenson

Concours Jeunes critiques

L'espace performatif de la recherche actuelle : entre bibliothèque et salle d'exposition
Maude Johnson

Schizes en compagnie d'un corps ou l'autre

Manuel de contre-posturologie
Michel F. Côté et Catherine Lavoie-Marcus


Raymonde April, Near You No Cold, Montréal par Julie Alary Lavallée

Common Grounds, Munich par Dominique Sirois-Rouleau

Manon Labrecque, L'origine d'un mouvement, Gatineau par Anna Brunette

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