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36th International Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul
Art & Politics
The philosopher Bernard Stiegler states: “Art is political: aesthetics are political and politics are aesthetic.” This notion dates back to Antiquity[i] and remains even more incisive today. The 2018 International Symposium of Contemporary Art will follow the G7 Summit, another type of symposium, which will be held in June 2018 at La Malbaie a few kilometres from Baie-Saint-Paul. This is no ordinary situation. At the G7, the heads of states will have discussed, among other things, “the advancement of gender equality, the fight against climate change and the promotion of respect for diversity and inclusion.”
With the upheavals and armed conflicts that many regions of the planet are subjected to and to which we are the quasi-powerless witnesses since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), the events in Tiananmen Square (1989) and the attacks of September 11, 2001, and closer to us, the laborious process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the reception of refugees, the context and the dynamics of global politics have been completely transformed. The Nation-States need to be redefined (as well as the UN), theocracies and repressive regimes are taking over the geopolitical scene, the globalised and relocatedeconomy has completely altered the labour market and modes of (over)consumption, unrestrained capitalism reigns–accentuating the gap between the rich and the poor, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit) raises political and economic uncertainty in Europe and for refugees. Donald Trump’s election in the U.S.A.,the alternative facts that have become the rule and the rise in populism make us fear the worst. What will happen to the Paris Accord now that the U.S.A. and its climate sceptics have withdrawn from it? Terrorism and the radicalization of young people are hitting closer and closer to us. These are no longer distant phenomena that don’t concern us. How can we envisage a new paradigm without falling into the paranoia that propaganda is stirring up? Artists have the capacity to imagine ways of getting out of this dreadfully real chaos, ofmaking us emerge from the stagnation.They possess clear-sightedness and intuitive-ness that few of us have. For the younger generations, cynicism no longer seems an option. While we are brooding, without minimizing the situation that the world is now in, could we not, naively perhaps, bring “imagination to power?”, as it was envisioned in the 60’s, by the youth from Europe and North America?
All art disciplines are welcome. Here are just some areas of reflection,among many others, related to the theme:
- Censorship and the attack on freedom of speech and of artistic expression.
- Women used as weapons of war…
- Consequences of destroying part of humanity’s world heritage.
- Dystopia becoming reality.
- Lies, alternative facts and historical revisionism.
- Social networks, hacktivism and art.
- Stop the construction of walls between the nations and the welcoming of refugees.
- An art practice in areas of conflict.
- Can art really change the world?
Deadline to submit a project : December 1st 2017
[i]Particularly, Plato’s Banquet (banquet: symposion in Greek and symposium in Latin)
N.B. Since the late Françoise Labbé founded the Symposium of Baie-Saint-Paul in 1982, the tradition has been to invite artists to create works in front of the public, in a communal space. Although the way of working is unusual for a majority of artists, the symposium nevertheless gives rise to fruitful exchanges among the artists, in a convivial dynamics, and results in above all a very rich interaction with the public, which enables the demystifying of art practices. This mediation approach between the creation of art and its public reception represents a political gesture in itself.
N.B.: The themes can be evoked without necessarily being taken literally.
Sylvie Lacerte, Ph.D.