• exhibition
  • Biennale 2023
  • Procès d'intention

  • from 24.05.2023
  • to 19.11.2023
  • curator
  • Jean-Michel Géridan
  • exhibition design
  • Kévin Cadinot
  • Le Signe
  • Free of charge
  • ouvert à toutes et tous
  • All

Procès d’intention shows a set of artistic proposals in the field of graphic design consciously meant to be experimental and dissonant. They cross red lines – propriety, order and statistics. They are a kind of exploration, archaeology, revelation, politics, sociqal partisanship and research and development. 

The definition of a “procès d’intention” is an attempt to pass judgement on someone on the basis of their alleged intentions rather than facts, a form of sophistry meant to discredit arguments rather than consider them. As a form of argumentation, it is illegitimate because it is based on nothing but unverifiable assertions and suspicions. 

The exhibition Procès d’intention is about new tools, new methods of producing imagesnew media. The graphic designers whose work we are presenting are not trying to impose anything. They want to demonstrate that other stories can be told, other contexts can be built. The corpus is articulated around three suspicions commonly spread about contemporary graphic design. They relate to the continuity within the history of art, to tools, materials and uses that break with tradition, and finally to the question of elitism.

The first suspicion in this case is the fear that art history and its well-ordered continuity might be deconstructed. Yet many people have pointed out that art history cannot be understood from a linear point of view. 

The construction of art history is mainly ordered by criteria aimed at preventing an imagined “decline”, in the sense of the decline of a civilization, or, in other words, a fear of racial contamination and feminisation. How could the history of graphic design, let alone its historicization, be constructed differently? Martha Scotford’s “Neat history vs Messy History” perceptively analyses the mechanisms of power, capitalism and patriarchy that enable the art-historical erasure of artistic productions considered minor, and above all, of those who made them. Vanina Pinter’s book L’affiche a-t-elle un genre? (Do Posters Have Gender?) gives an overview of this problematic from the Belle Époque through today, revealing how “public criers” can utter the unthinkable and, “challenging accepted gender norms”, produce gender trouble.

The second suspicion is that some people are seeking to denature the essence of an art, whether through their subjects or its treatment, or their use of highly untraditional materials. The current debate about artificial intelligence (AI), like the emergence of NFT transactions, are symptomatic of such transformations, and reiterations of previous crises brought about by the transformation of art media, such as the introduction of oil in tubes for painting, the emergence of photography and the talkies, and of course the artistic use of computer programming. One example of this is the art world’s reticence to accept the poetic power of Vera Molnar’s algorithmic pieces. In another example, commentaries written in the guest book of Manfred Mohr’s show Une esthétique programmée (Programmed Aesthetics) at the Musée d’art moderne de Paris are testament to some people’s inability to believe that a programmed device can yield real art. 

The last suspicion at work here is that of elitism. The cultural world has certainly had its share of violence in various forms, both among its own ranks and in relation to the world at large. The accusation of elitism is one of the most recurrent but also one of the most hypocritical attacks on culture. This “elitism” is actually expertise, and one that we want to share as broadly as possible. 

There is an attempt to discredit the work of graphic designers by calling their pieces “unreadable”, or rather understandable only to fellow fanatics and snowflakes, a handful of handicapped people, ineffectual intellectuals, LGBTQIA+ persons, “anti-French” leftists, feminists, Care Bears, minorities, trade unionists and kids who don’t yet even know how to hold a pencil but already think they could do better. As far as we are concerned, this medium, these posters deemed so obscure, are really, taken as a whole, quite accessible to a great many people, especially those who don’t take offense at the first sign of critical thinking.  

With Suzy Chan Diane Boivin Karl Nawrot Olivier Lebrun E+K, Elise Gay et Kévin Donnot Ines Cox Jean-Noël Lafargue Guillaume Roux(coucou) Superscript2 Julien Gachadoat