Call for proposals

Issue 123 (fall 2019)

General informations:

Submissions must be sent in Word or RTF format to info [@] espaceartactuel [.] com. Unless otherwise indicated, they should comprise original and previously unpublished work. Writers are asked to include a brief biography (70-80 words for reviews, 80-100 words for other sections) and their mailing and email addresses.

The editorial committee reviews all submissions and reserves the right to accept or refuse any articles. Texts that present a potential conflict of interest between the author and subject will not be considered.

Submissions are evaluated on the following criteria: relevance to the mandate of ESPACE art actuel magazine, clarity of expression, quality of analysis and originality.

The editorial committee, overseen by the magazine’s Editor-in-chief André-Louis Paré, consists of Mélanie Boucher, Peter Dubé, Bénédicte Ramade, Aseman Sabet, Bernard Schütze and Mathieu Teasdale.

Contributors will receive $65 per 250-word page.

1. EXHIBITION REVIEWS section

Exhibition reviews should be no more than 1000 words, including endnotes. Authors must choose a recent solo or group exhibition held in Quebec, Canada or abroad.

Submission deadline: the deadline for Reviews is May 10, 2019.

2. INTERVIEWS or EVENTS sections

Please send an email to the direction of the magazine if you are interested in writing for either of these sections. Articles must be between 1500 and 2000 words, including endnotes.

Submission deadline: the deadline for Interviews and Events is May 10, 2019.

3. DOSSIER section

For this collection of essays, we would like to have original texts on this subject that cover a minimum of two or three art practices. If you would like to submit a text, we first invite you to email — before March 15th, 2019 — the editor of the magazine André-Louis Paré (alpare [@] espaceartactuel [.] com) to present a summary of your project. We will inform you promptly if your proposal is accepted. Your completed text should not exceed 2000 words, footnotes included. As well as an honorarium of $65 per page (250 words), we will send you a free one-year subscription to the magazine.

Deadline: Reception date of the final version of the text is May 10, 2019.

Dossier: Transparency
Issue 123 (fall 2019)

There is no denying that the notion of transparency is now increasingly pervasive in public administration, social, ethical, and even communication discourses. Transparency is quite obviously a relational value. It is not surprising that it is with the advent of public space in the 18th century, also known as the Enlightenment, that this notion of transparency gradually came to take root. This was undoubtedly driven by noble aspirations: civil society—in order to emancipate itself and attain a state governed by rule of law—requires transparency for its development. To speak of transparency is thus to also speak of visibility and a thirst for knowledge, in view of guiding enlightened decisions. In fact, in a democratic state, in which everyone can freely express their opinion, nothing must be hidden, or suspect. But are things really this limpid? Doesn’t the idea of transparency itself have something to hide?

In a book called The Transparent Society, published in 1994 in its English version,1 the philosopher Gianni Vattimo still envisaged a promising future for the notion of transparency, mainly in regards to knowledge sharing. At the time he believed that new communication technologies could counter the abuse of an authoritarianism bolstered by an information monopoly. But he quickly realized that these technologies could not keep their promises and that online democracy is far from perfect. Quite on the contrary, public digital space intensifies the possibilities of the already existing opportunities for domination. Though the notion of transparency means “to see through” it is also a part of the surveillance apparatus that Jeremy Bentham developed in the 19th century with his famous Panopticon. The surveillance technologies we now have access in fact greatly amplify this obsession to keep a perpetual watch on reality. In other words, computerized transparency, the distribution of the digital sensible has brought about a situation in which transparency has been transformed into a desire for absolute control. To resist this obsession and to attempt to bypass it, some, like Édouard Glissant, call for a right to opacity and the secret. How has this played itself out in the visual arts? How is the notion of transparency expressed there?

According to Philippe Junod, in the visual arts field “transparency bears the stamp of ambivalence.”2 It is thus also subjected to contradictions. Indeed, in sculpture, it has led to works such as the Veiled Christ (Cristo velato) by Giuseppe Sanmartino (1753) or the famous The Veiled Virgin that Giovanni Strazza created in the 19th century, both of which create the illusion of a seeing through. But during the same era, glass, this emblem of industrial and architectural modernity, became a material that could embody the idea of transparency. With its capacity to allow light to pass through it, glass is associated with an aesthetic that overlaps utopian, dream, hygienic, ideological, moral or political elements (according to P. Junod). Like the surrealist André Breton, Walter Benjamin envisaged the glass house as a utopian space where the idea of transparency was to go along with a sense of community and sharing. In this perspective, according to him, glass is the enemy of mystery and the enemy of private property.3 As we indicated above, in the digital era this translucent purity masks oppressive effects. Behind the compulsion to show everything, because one has nothing to hide, there is a creeping ambition to control private life. Henceforth, without really being cognizant of it, consumer-citizens publicly reveal their tastes, preferences and opinions and constantly leave traces of their every move. The image of the glass house has thus become the image of an insidious control over our lives.

With this issue of ESPACE magazine, we aim to explore the notion of transparency in relation to materials and what they can reveal in the history of aesthetics, whether it be with glass architecture or city lighting, but also with transparency design. We are also interested in proposals that approach the question of transparency from a socio-political perspective. Considered as a metaphor, what does transparency tell us about our present condition? How is the idea of transparency a feature of the new globalized economy? How can certain artistic strategies be helpful to counter the underground information networks? As Emmanuel Alloa and Yves Citton point out in the no. 73 issue of Multitudes journal, artists are often more attuned to the aberrations and dangers of digital apparatuses than are researchers in the social sciences.4 In combining research and creation, they are indeed better able to reveal the principles of a deceptively transparent economy. This issue, therefore, seeks to shine a special light on these visual arts practices, which stimulate reflection about our situation as citizens of a world awash with information that often threatens to alienate us.

 


1. Gianni Vattimo, The Transparent Society, translated by David Webb, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

2. Philippe Junod, “Nouvelles variations sur la transparence”, in Appareil [online text], 7 | 2011, uploaded April 11, 2011. [our translation], consulted on February 14, 2019. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1197

3. Léa Barbisan, “Vivre la transparence”, in Sens public [online text], uploaded November 11, 2017, consulted on February 14, 2019. URL: http://sens-public.org/article1257.html

4. Emmanuel Alloa et Yves Citton, “Tyrannies de la transparence”, in Multitudes, vol. 73, n° 4, 2018, pp. 47-54.