Since its creation in 1991 (as the Printemps de Cahors), successive editions of the Printemps de Toulouse have established the event as a unique moment of exchange and encounter. The festival has never stopped evolving and developing, thanks to the unfailing support of its partners and its critical and popular success, and not forgetting its powerful internal dynamics.
Ever since its inaugural year, the ambition of this festival has been to open up the field of the visual arts and provide an annual survey of contemporary creation in the fields of the photographic image and live performance. It has pursued this goal in different ways and with different means, following the orientations chosen by the artistic directors for each year.
Today, the Printemps de septembre is an internationally renowned event with a professional structure. Hosted since 2001 by the city of Toulouse, it is in an even stronger position to affirm its innovative outlook. It is doing so in 2004 by concentrating and reinforcing its presence in the town, centring on the centre d' Art contemporain Les Abattoirs, now a major space for contemporary art. And also, by entrusting its artistic direction to an established artist, Jean-Marc Bustamante, who also happens to come from Toulouse.
While the act of giving a practising artist such a role is fairly common in the world of the performing arts, it is still quite a rarity in the field of the visual arts. And yet it offers a way of bringing to bear a vision that is characterised by freedom and radicality. It is not surprising, then, that the theme chosen by Jean-Marc Bustamante, "In Extremes", should be one that conveys the urgency, the extremes and the limits of the image in today's art, whatever the forms used.
Here, then, is an ambitious, innovative programme that perhaps only an artist would have dared put forward, implemented in collaboration with Pascal Pique, the curator of exhibitions. It raises the questions implicit in a world that is saturated with images and yet where, paradoxically, we lack for certain images, or where images elude us or are trying to invent other modes of existence. Through the multiplicity of their cultural references and the diversity of their visual forms, the artists featured by "In Extremis" are displacing the questions, revealing new connections, giving us a new take on the present and, with it, a new way of thinking about the images of the past.
Toulouse has a proud artistic and musical past. The creation of Les Abattoirs and of the Centre de Développement Chorégraphique were key events in its espousal of modernity. The Printemps de septembre is very much part of this dynamics.