CFP: International Symposium: Artistic Activism and the Globalization of the Art Scene (Theory, Practice, Paradigm and Circulation)

CALL FOR PAPER: International Symposium: Artistic Activism and the Globalization of  the Art Scene (Theory, Practice, Paradigm and Circulation)

The research team ADS (Art / Design / Scenography – research laboratory MICA – EA 4426) of Bordeaux Montaigne University, CEIAS (Study Centre of India and South Asia –UMR 8564-EHESS-CNRS) and CLIMAS (Cultures and Literatures of English-speaking worlds – EA 4196) of Bordeaux Montaigne University are organizing an international  symposium on Monday 4, Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 May 2020, at Bordeaux  Montaigne University, France.

Under the direction of Nicolas Nercam ADS-MICA (UBM) associate researcher CEIAS (EHESS-CNRS) and Mathilde Bertrand CLIMAS (UBM).

The term “Arts Activism” has been circulating since the 1990s in reference to a significant part of the production of contemporary art throughout the world, however without receiving any clear definition. Numerous international events – the Berlin Biennial in 2012, the Venice Biennial in 2017, the Manifesta 12 in Palermo in 2018, or the Kochi-Muziris Biennial “Possibilities of a non-alienated life” in 2018-19 to name some recent ones – made it a central question and broached, among others, the themes of ecology, anti-globalization, feminism, responsible consumption, social and economic alienation or immigration. Similarly, a number of works (C. Mesch 2014, D. Vander
Gucht 2014, JM Lachaud 2015, N. Thompson 2015, 2018, P. Weibel 2015, G. Didi-Huberman 2016, G. Sholette 2017, 2018, D. Berthet 2018, M. Reilly 2018) and magazines (the May 2019 issue of Artforum International for example) address the question of contemporary forms taken by the interrelations between art and politics.

“Artivism” encompasses artistic actions, which tackle social and political issues and revive agitational practices, in resistance to the planetary hegemony of the ideology of so-called neoliberal capitalism. This resurgent awareness of the political nature of  artistic creation questions consensual discourses on the neutrality of art and aesthetics, allegedly confined in their “autonomy” and impervious to the disorders of the world. Within artistic activism a dialectic between two entities, traditionally perceived as being of a different nature, is played out: on the one hand the field of art (too often defined as autonomous, with no other functionality than its own) and on the other hand, the field of politics and social activities (understood as a praxis of the exercise of power in an organized society).
Art, today as yesterday, cannot change the world concretely. But the experiences to which it invites us can still, by challenging and disturbing us, nourish our capacity to revolt and awaken our faculty to aspire to something other than what it is (Lachaud 2015).

The central question raised by artistic activism could be stated in this way: How can we evaluate the capacity of art (visual arts, literature, performance, theatre, dance, video art, etc.) to function as social and political protest?

The possibility of measuring this capacity (let alone its effectiveness) is a difficult task. Because the artistic and ideological aims of activism are varied. This is made evident in the extreme diversity of appellations which, across the world designate activism in the arts: Socially Engaged Art, Committed Art, Community Art, Dialogic Art, Interventionist Art, participatory Art, Relational Art (art relationnel) Collective Art, Contextual Art (art contextuel), Artivism (artivisme), etc.

Etymologically, the notion of “activism” doesn’t seem to emphasize any particular reflective position about the contemporary world, but rather, without claiming any particular political or artistic filiations, to favour vigorous action that can be perceived as boisterous, treading at times a fine line between “agitation” and “action”. In this sense, activism is symptomatic of our time, where “urgent action” in response to climatic and environmental crises and social upheaval, etc. is more likely to take place rather than
discussion on global issues.

The range of artistic practices mobilized by activism is thus very broad. It ranges from so-called traditional techniques (painting, drawing, sculpture, theatre, etc.), through ephemeral practices, in situation, inscribed in a particular time and place (public space,
urban space, warehouse, etc.). ) to the development of interventions on the web of the net (net art, hacktivism, etc.).
Two radically different positions can be delineated, within all these practices:
– When artistic action is part of a form of enhancing the functionality of the message and political action, in order to make the latter more “attractive”. In this case, the activist artist must be sympathetic (or at least in agreement) with the object of the political discourse. If this type of intervention allows the artist to cherish the hope of obtaining some social and political changes, it contains the risk of ideological subjugation, drifting into the art of propaganda and the reduction of aesthetic innovation.
– When artistic action participates in the diversion and dysfunction of political action and its discourse, in the cancellation of their practical and efficient dimension. This last position seems to have been adopted by a large number of activist artists in order to call out the dangers, the excesses, the flaws, the hypocrisies of this or that political action or this or that ideological principle. It ensures a greater autonomy of artistic action and seems to avoid any subjection to one political discourse. On the other hand, it relegates to the background the impact of artistic action in the social and
political domain (in a sort of objectification of a political and social status quo).

These two contradictory traditions nourish, by mingling with each  other, what we call contemporary artistic activism. An analysis of its productions sometimes reveals more or less ambiguous aims.

Taking into account the need for a global approach to the phenomenon, and the exploration of its most diverse forms and concepts, this conference aims to contribute to the study of arts activism since the 1990s.
Globalization invites us to no longer be content with a North Atlantic conception of art history. But for many observers, this supposedly unified worldview cannot mask the sharp divisions between the privileged and the “developed” and the oppressed, in the process of “development”. The crossovers, the transfers, the interrelations between art and politics, at work within the artistic activism, can thus find specific colourings in different places of the globe.
The organizing team of this symposium aims to bring together researchers from different perspectives to reflect together on the various forms and conceptions of art activism:
– In cultural areas other than Western (Central and Latin America, Asia, Africa, Pacific), often marginalized in the approaches to the phenomenon.
– In artistic productions developed in Western countries, attentive, in particular, to the issues of marginalized areas, immigration, otherness, and diasporic identity.

Some non-exclusive themes, presented here in a non-exhaustive way, can serve as a guideline for the preparation of this conference:
– The contributions and resistances vis-à-vis the “models” of Western engaged arts (upsetting or reinforcing the notions of “functionality” and “dysfunctionality” of the field of art).
– The contributions of political struggles specific to the construction and development of an activism(s) in art.
– The legacies or continuities of anti-colonial struggles in manifestations of contemporary artistic activism.
– “South-South” circulations originating in the construction and development of artistic activism in various parts of the world.
– Significant contributions of local political and / or artistic and cultural practices to the dynamics of artistic activism.
– The contribution of postcolonial discourse in the development of specific forms of artistic activism.
– The phenomena of alignment (or even recovery) of the protest practices of artistic activism within the “cultural industries” and “creative economies”.

For more information, contact Nicolas Nercam
( and Mathilde Bertrand (

Submission of abstracts:
Communication proposals, written in English or French, must include:
– The name and email (s) of the author (s),
– The institutional affiliations of the author or authors,
– A short presentation of the author or authors, 200 words maximum,
– The title,
– An abstract of 500 words maximum,
– A list of 5 keywords, – An essential bibliography,
– The written and signed commitment to pay the registration fee of (?)
Euros, in case the proposal is accepted.

Proposals should be sent in pdf format before December 9th, 2019 to Nicolas Nercam ( and Mathilde Bertrand (
The communication proposals will be examined and selected by the scientific committee of the symposium.
The 20-minute talks will be followed by 10 minutes of discussion. They will be held in French or English. No interpreting or translation services can be provided. (The accommodation and transport costs will be borne by the participants)

Scientific Committee:
Nicolas Bautès (CEIAS-EHESS-CNRS)
Mathilde Bertrand (CLIMAS)
Cécie Croce (ADS-MICA)
Bernard Lafargue (ADS-MICA)
Nicolas Nercam (ADS-MICA-CEIAS)

Organising Committee:
Mathilde Bertrand (CLIMAS)
Nicolas Nercam (ADS-MICA-CEIAS)

Select Bibliography:
– Paul Ardenne, Pascal Beausse, Laurent Goumarre, Pratiques contemporaines, l’art comme expérience, Paris, Dis voir, 1999.
– Paul Ardenne, Un art contextuel : création artistique en milieu urbain, en situation d’intervention, de participation, Flammarion,
Paris, 2009.
– Paul Ardenne, Art, Le Présent. La création plasticienne au tournant du XXIe siècle, Editions du Regard, Paris, 2009.
– Dominique Baqué, Histoires d’ailleurs : artistes et penseurs de l’itinérance, Paris, éditions du Regard, 2006.
– Dominique Baqué, Pour un nouvel art politique : de l’art contemporain au documentaire, Flammarion, Paris, 2009.
– Alain Bieber and Lukas Feireiss, Urban Interventions. Personnal projects in public spaces, Gestalten, Berlin, 2010.
– Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells. Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, Verso, London, 2012.
– Nicolas Bourriaud, Esthétique relationnelle, Les Presses du Réel, Paris, 1998.
– Hans Cova, Art et politique : les aléas d’un projet esthétique, coll. Ouverture philosophique, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2005.
– Henri Cueco and Pierre Gaudibert, L’Arène de l’art, Galilée, Paris, 1998.
– Thierry Davila, Marcher, créer, déplacements, flânerie, dérives dans l’art de la fin du XXe siècle, Paris, édition du Regard, 2002.
– John Dewey, Art as experience, Tarcher Perigee, Penguin Books, New
York, 2005.
– Georges Didi-huberman, Soulèvements, Gallimard/Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2016.
– Christophe Domino, A Ciel ouvert. L’Art contemporain à l’échelle du paysage, Paris, Scala, 2006.
– Anthony Downey, Art and Politics Now, Thames & Hudson, London, 2014.
– Mikel Dufrenne, Art et Politique, éditions 10/18, Paris, 1974.
– Marie Escorne, L’art à même la ville, PUB, 2015.
– Jean-Jacques Gleizal, L’art et le politique. Essai sur la médiation,
PUF, Paris, 1994.
– Catherine Grout, Pour une réalité publique de l’art, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2000.
– Joseph Heath et Andrew Potter, Révolte consommée. Le mythe de la contre-culture, Naïve, Paris, 2005.
– Pablo Helguera, Education for Socially Engaged Art. A Materials and Techniques Handbook, J. Pinto Books, New York, 2011.
– François Hers and Xavier Douroux, L’art sans le capitalisme, Les Presses du Réel, Monts, 2011.
– Boris Groys, Art Power, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2008.
– Boris Groys, In the Flow, Verso, London, 2018.
– Marc Jimenez, La critique : crise de l’art ou consensus culturel ? Klincksieck, Genève, 1995.
– Allan Kaprow, L’Art et la vie confondus, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1996.
– Jean Marc Lachaud, Art et aliénation, PUF, Paris, 2012.
– Jean Marc Lachaud, Que peut (malgré tout) l’art ?, l’Harmattan, Paris, 2015.
– Stéphanie Lemoine et Samira Ouardi, Artivisme. Art, action politique et résistance culturelle, Paris, Alternatives, 2010.
– Herbert Marcuse, L’Homme unidimensionnel, translation of M. Wittig, Les éditions de Minuit,  Paris, 1964.
– Carlo McCornick, Marc and Sara Schiller, Trespass. Une histoire de l’art urbain illicite, Köln, Taschen, 2010.
– Claudia Mesch, Art and Politics. A Small History of Art for Social Change since 1945, I.B.Tauris, London, 2013.
– Claire Moulène, Art contemporain et lien social, éditions Cercle d’art, Paris, 2007.
– Raymonde Moulin, De la valeur de l’art, Flammarion, Paris, 1995.
– Franck Popper, Le Déclin de l’objet, Le Chêne, Paris, 1975.
– Frank Popper, Art, Action et Participation, Klincksieck, Lausanne, 1980.
– Jacques Rancière, Le partage du sensible : esthétique et politique, La Fabrique, Paris, 2000.
– Jacques Rancière, Le spectateur émancipé, La Fabrique, Paris, 2008.
– Jacques Rancière, Aisthesis. Scène du régime esthétique de l’art, Paris, Galilée, 2011.
– Anita Seppä, Globalisation and the Arts from Colonialist and
Nationalist Aesthetics to Global Hybrids, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011.
– Gregory Sholette, Dark Matter : Art and Politics in the age of enterprise culture, Pluto Press, London, 2006.
– Gregory Sholette, Delirium and Resistance : Activist Art and the crisis of Capitalism, Pluto Press, London, 2017.
– Jan Swidzinski, L’Art et son contexte. Au fait, qu’est-ce que fait l’art ?, Inter éditeur, Québec, 2005.
– Nato Thompson, Seeing Power. Art and Activism in the 21st Century, Melville House Printing, New York, 2015.
– Nato Thompson, Culture as a Weapon : the art influence in everyday life, Melville House Printing, New York, 2017.
– Daniel Vander Gucht, L’expérience politique de l’art. Retour sur la définition de l’art engagé, Les Impressions Nouvelles Editions, Paris,
– Krzysztof Wodiczko, Art public, art critique, textes propos et documents, Centre Pompidou, Flammarion, Paris, 1996.
– Joëlle Zask, Outdoor Art. La sculpture et ses lieux, coll. « Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond », La Découverte, Paris, 2013.

Collective Works
– Art public, Art critique, edited by Krzysztof Wodiczko, ENBA, Paris, 1995.
– Art, Culture et Politique : Actes du congrès Marx International II, edited by Jean Marc Lachaud, PUF, Paris, 1999.
– Les Non-publics – les arts en réceptions, edited by Pascale Ancel and Alain Pessin, tome 1 & 2, Paris, Budapest, Torino, L’Harmattan, 2004.
– Art et Politique, edited by Jean Marc Lachaud, l’Harmattan, coll. Ouverture philosophique, Paris, 2006.
– Les formes contemporaines de l’art engagé. De l’art contextuel aux nouvelles pratiques documentaires, edited by  Eric Van Essche, La Lettre volée, Bruxelles, 2007.
– Arts et Pouvoir, edited by Marc Jimenez, Klincksieck, coll. Université des arts, Paris, 2007.
– Collectivism after Modernism. The Art of Social Imagination after 1945, edited by  Blake Stimson and Gregory Sholette, University of Mineapolis Press, 2007.
– L’art, le territoire – Art, espace public, urbain, collective, ERTU, 2008.
– L’artiste et l’entrepreneur, edited by N. Hillaire, Cité du Design Editions, Paris, 2008.
– Un nouvel art de militer : Happenings, luttes festives et actions directes, edited by  Cyril Cavalié and Sébastien Porte, Alternatives, Paris, 2009.
– Artivisme : Art, action politique et résistance culturelle, edited by Stéphanie Lemoine and Samira Ouardi, Alternatives, Paris, 2010.
– Art and Activism in the age of Globalization, edited by L. De Cauter, R. De Roo and K. Vanhaesebrouck, NAi, Rotterdam, 2010.
– Une esthétique de l’outrage ?, edited by Jean Marc Lachaud and Olivier Neveux, l’Harmattan, coll. Ouverture philosophique, Paris, 2012.
– Living as Form. Socially Engaged Art Form 1991-2011, edited by N. Thompson, Creative Time Books, New York, 2012.
– L’art dans sa relation au lieu, edited by Dominique Berthet, l’Harmattan, 2012.
– Art et mondialisation : Anthologie de textes de 1950 à nos jours, edited by Catherine Grenier, C. Pompidou, Paris, 2013.
– Global Activism, Art and conflict in the 21th century, edited by Peter Weibel, ZKM Karlsruhe & The MIT Press, London, 2014.
– Les murs révoltés : Quand le street art parle social et politique, edited by  Stéphanie Lemoine and Yvan Tessier, Alternatives, Paris, 2015.
– Lieux & Mondes. Arts, Cultures & Politiques, edited by Eric Bonnet and François Soulages, coll. Local & Global, l’Harmattan, Paris, 2015.
– Rue des arts, productions artistiques et espacer urbain, edited by M. Maleval and J. M. Lachaud, l’Harmattan, Paris, 2015.
– Future Publics (The rest can and should be done by the People) : A critical Reader in Contemporary Art, edited by M. Hlavajova and R. Hoskote, BAK, Utrecht, 2015.
– Political Aesthetics : Culture, critique and Everyday, edited by Arundhati Virmani, Routledge, London, 2015.
– L’Histoire n’est pas donnée. Art contemporain et postcolonialité en France, edited by  E. Chérel and F. Dumont, PUR, Rennes, 2016.
– Former West : Art and the Contemporary after 1989, edited by M. Hlavajova and S. Sheik, BAK, Utrecht, 2016.
– Création et Engagement, edited by Dominique Berthet, coll. Ouverture philosophique, l’Harmattan, Paris 2018.
– Décolonisons les arts ! edited by L. Cukierman, G. Dambury and F. Vergès, L’Arche, Paris, 2018.
– Art as Social Action : An Introduction to the Princieples and Practices of teaching Social Practice Art, edited by G. Sholette and Chloë Bass, Allworth Press, New York, 2018.

– Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, vol. 16, Issue 4, n°61, December 2002, Routledge, London.
– Les Cahiers du travail social, n° 65, « Cultures, arts et travail social », January-April 2011.
– L’’information géographique, « Activisme urbain : art, architecture et espace public », September 2012.
– Les Cahiers d’Artes, n° 9, 2012, « L’Art à l’épreuve du social », edited by Sabine Forero Mendoza, PUB, Bordeaux.
– Figures de l’art n°31, revue d’études esthétiques, 2016, « L’Art des villes », edited by Cécile Croce, Presses universitaires de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour.
– Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, n°144, « Social Reproduction and Art », January 2017, Routledge, London.
– Artforum International Magazine, « Art’s uprisings: Activism now », May 2019, New York.
– Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, Special Issue « Anti-fascism/Art/Theory », May 2019, Routledge, London.

– Claudia Villas Boas, « Geopolitical Criteria and the Classification of Art », Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, vol. 26, Issue 1, January 2012, pp. 41-52.
– Anne Ring Petersen, « Identity Politics, Institutional Multiculturalism, and the Global Artworld », Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, vol. 26, Issue 1, Marsh 2012, pp. 195-204.
– Marc James Léger, « Art and Art History After Globalisation », Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, vol. 26, n°118, Issue 5, September 2012, pp. 515-528.
– T. J. Demos, « The Art and politis of ecology in India: a roundtable with Ravi Agarwal and Sanjay Kak », Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, vol. 27, n°120, Issue 1, January 2013, pp.151-161.
– A. Memou, “Art, Activism and the Tate”, Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, vol. 31, Issue 5-6, n°148-149, September – November 2017, pp.619-632
– Ros Gray and Shela Sheikh, « The Wretched Earth, botanical conflicts and Artistic Interventions », Third Text. Critical Perspective on Contemporary Art and Culture, n°151-152, May 2018, pp.163-175

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