Even before the pandemic broke out, we had chosen our title: Sur les cendres de l’hacienda (On the ashes of the hacienda). It was not an anticipation of our current situation. But this constrained condition offers a remarkable image of the world into which we are thrown and which appeared to us three years ago, as the ruins of our emancipatory illusions. Ivan Shcheglov said in 1958 in the first issue of the Situationist International: ‘‘We must build the hacienda.’’ The idea of fortified centres of resistance and subversion seemed a desirable horizon. This idea, reinvented in 1991 by Hakim Bey and his ZTAs (‘‘Zones of Temporary Autonomy’’), collapsed under the combined assaults of the progress of economic-political liberalism and the disenchantment of critical thought.
If the hacienda has perished in their flames, what is left for the artists but to stand up in this symbolic disaster and look beyond? In the succession of editions of the festival, this one follows Dans la pluralité des mondes (In the Plurality of Worlds), 2016, and Fracas et Frêles Bruits (Crackles and frail noises), 2018. These three titles form a commentary on our contemporary condition. As in the previous episodes, the festival will take place in many places in and around the city. It is essential for us to be part of the labyrinthine geography of the city that we wish to ‘‘affect’’ or move with the artists we invite.
As always, our main object remains the exhibition, its forms and formats, its capacity to transport us suddenly. Some fifty artists will be spread over twenty-five venues. Some of them, very young, will present the beginnings of their work while others, deceased, sometimes in 2020 and 2021, will see their memory saluted. Art cannot live without memory; it is a flow of ideas: artists pass the baton to each other over time. Some who have fallen off the radar screen deserve to be shown again. History has a duty to erase its blind spots. Each era takes a fresh look at the past and revives neglected works. A festival like ours would also like to contribute to treating our amnesia.
It is impossible to discern today what will make sense tomorrow for our time. Yet this is where our paradoxical challenge lies. At least we know our limits and our opportunities. In the course of the exhibition spaces, forms of neighbourliness and unforeseen convergences may appear. In this way,
Sur les cendres de l’hacienda will not turn out to be a theme that we would have liked to illustrate, but a prism through which to apprehend the condition of the contemporary artist in the disorientation that characterises our time: sometimes prey to the clash of reality (Yves Bélorgey, Tim Etchells, Gérard Fromanger, Shiva Khosravi, Elisa Larvego, Walid Raad, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, for example), sometimes turned towards oneself, the castle of one’s imagination, or what a popular saying called ''la folle du logis" (the madwoman of the house), in other words the insistence of the dream (Antoine Bernhart, Cathryn Boch, Miriam Cahn, Mireille Cangardel, Adrien Dax, Chloé Delarue, Miryam Haddad, Natacha Lesueur, Christian Lhopital, Virginie Loze, Mathilda Marque Bouaret, Luisanna Quattrini, Christine Sefolosha, Eva Taulois or Jean-Luc Verna, not forgetting the contemporary evocation of fantastic realism through the collection of the agnès b. endowment fund), sometimes still focused on the formal history of his·her practice, on its historical sequences and unfolding its new possibilities (Michel Aubry, Silvia Bächli, Katinka Bock, Toni Grand, Gyan Panchal, Maria Tackmann, for example). Tribute will also be paid to artists who died last year (Siah Armajani, Jean-Marie Krauth) or a long time ago (Marie Bourget, Adrien Dax, Toni Grand, Kiki Kogelnik) and who continue to speak to us in the present of our questions.
At this very special moment and after more than a year of slow cultural and artistic life, Le Printemps de septembre returns to Toulouse and Occitania, underlining once again that contemporary creation is a precious element of our society, an essential way of thinking about the world, its changes, and its complexity. After the cancellation of the 2020 edition, we are very happy to look to the future. The festival team, its partners and the artists have mobilised to reinvent a project in new spaces and a new context, honouring the vast majority of invitations.
The previous edition of the festival was a resounding success with 218,000 visitors. We hope to see as many of you for the third and final edition of Christian Bernard, which has invited some fifty artists of all generations to present their work in more than twenty-five venues in and around Toulouse, forming a rich journey through the city.
Announcing a new edition is always a joy, but this year has a special character as it will also mark the 30th anniversary of the festival, and as many years of creations, collaborations and discoveries. Ten years in Cahors, twenty years in Toulouse, dozens of curators, hundreds of works produced, more than 1800 invited artists... and always the same desire for innovation and openness to the greatest number, the same concern for evolution and development. Both popular and of great artistic quality, the festival supports artists and contemporary creation, accompanies the recognition of major figures of the international scene and the emergence of new generations and inscribes its project in a territory. An event that is both demanding and accessible, arousing curiosity through ‘‘a party around art’’, and completely free of charge.
To celebrate this anniversary, Le Printemps de septembre is betting on the marvellous and has imagined an open-air project, an urban and artistic wandering at dusk. Contemplation and reverie, but also celebration and fantasy, will take place at night, with the Garonne basin as the main arena for this anniversary. For the occasion, the festival is reviving an important part of its history: light. Chromatic treatment of public lighting, moving images, works made of neon lights or candles, narration and music... so many ways to sublimate the city through a poetic signal visible to all. Whether they are works created for the occasion, recent works, emblematic works never shown in Toulouse or reactivation of pieces produced in the history of the festival, these projects have all been conceived, at the invitation of Anne-Laure Belloc, the new director of the festival, by visual artists, musicians, authors or performers who have already been invited to Le Printemps de septembre.
An anniversary book will finally celebrate these 30 years of the festival. A book that will address, in an approach that goes against commemoration and anthology, some of the questions that have nourished and animated Le Printemps de septembre over the past 30 years.
But this year, it will be above all a question of pleasure, the pleasure of finding our public, the artists, a cultural vitality, the pleasure of creating encounters and of seeing the festival unfold once again in Toulouse and beyond.
President and founder