2018_Soulevements_ChenChieh-Jen Chen, The Route, 2006, still from the 35 mm film transferred onto DVD, color and black and white, silent, 16 min 45 s. Courtesy of Galerie Lily Robert, Paris © Chieh-Jen Chen


What makes us rise up? It is forces: mental, physical, and social forces. Through these forces we transform immobility into movement, burden into energy, submission into revolt, renunciation into expansive joy. Uprisings occur as gestures: arms rise up, hearts beat more strongly, bodies unfold, mouths are unbound. Uprisings are never without thoughts, which often become sentences: we think, express ourselves, discuss, sing, scribble a message, create a poster, distribute a tract, or write a work of resistance.

It is also forms: forms through which all of this will be able to appear and become visible in the public space. Images, therefore; images to which this exhibition is devoted. Images of all times, from Goya to today, and of all kinds: paintings, drawings, sculptures, films, photographs, videos, installations, documents, etc. They interact in dialogue beyond the differences of their times. They are presented according to a narrative in which there will appear, in succession, unleashed elements, when the energy of the refusal makes an entire space rise up; intense gestures, when bodies can say “No!”; exclaimed words, when speech rebels and files a complaint with the court of history; flared-up conflicts, when barricades are erected and when violence becomes inevitable; and indestructible desires, when the power of uprisings manages to survive beyond their repression or their disappearance.

In any case, whenever a wall is erected, there will always be “people arisen” to “jump the wall,” that is, to cross over borders. If only by imagining. As though inventing images contributed—a little here, powerfully there—to reinventing our political hopes.

Georges Didi-Huberman, curator



Uprisings in five sections


Sections I, II and III are presented at Galerie de l’UQAM, and sections IV and V at Cinémathèque québécoise


I. With elements (unleashed)


2018_Soulevements_KatoTsubasa Kato, Break it Before it’s Broken, 2015, still from the video, color, sound, 4 min 49 s © Tsubasa Kato / Camera: Taro Aoishi


To rise up, as when we say “a storm is rising.” To reverse the weight that nailed us to the ground. So, it is the laws of the atmosphere itself that will be contradicted. Surfaces—sheets, draperies, flags—fly in the wind. Lights that explode into fireworks. Dust that rises up from nooks and crannies. Time that falls out of joint. The world upside down. From Victor Hugo to Eisenstein and beyond, uprisings are often compared to hurricanes or to great, surging waves. Because then the elements (of history) become unleashed.

We rise up first of all by exercising our imagination, albeit through our “caprichos” (whims or fantasies) or “disparates” (follies) as Goya said. The imagination makes mountains rise up. And when we rise up from a real “disaster,” it means that we meet what oppresses us, and those who seek to make it impossible for us to move, with the resistance of forces that are desires and imaginations first of all, that is to say psychical forces of unleashing and of reopening possibilities.


With Dennis Adams, Rebecca Belmore, William Hogarth, Victor Hugo, Mario Jean, Tsubasa Kato, Eustachy Kossakowski, Maria Kourkouta, Jasmina Metwaly, Tina Modotti, Robert Morris, Roman Signer, Michael Snow, Françoise Sullivan, Gabor Szilasi, Jean Veber, anonymous


2. With gestures (intense)


2018_Soulevements_lakeSuzy Lake, Pre-Resolution: Using the Ordinances at Hand #11, 1983, chromogenic print, oil, paint, wood. Shanita Kachan and Gerald Sheff Collection © Suzy Lake


Rising up is a gesture. Before even attempting to carry out a voluntary and shared “action,” we rise up with a simple gesture that suddenly overturns the burden that submission had, until then, placed on us (be it through cowardice, cynicism, or despair). To rise up means to throw off the burden weighing down on our shoulders, keeping us from moving. It is to break a certain present—be it with hammer blows as Friedrich Nietzsche and Antonin Artaud sought to do—and to raise your arms towards the future that is opening up. It is a sign of hope and of resistance.

It is a gesture and it is an emotion. The Spanish Republicans—whose visual culture was shaped by Goya and Picasso, but also by all the photographers on the field who collected the gestures of freed prisoners, of voluntary combatants, of children and of the famous La Pasionaria, Dolores Ibárruri—fully assumed this. In the gesture of rising up, each body protests with all of its limbs, each mouth opens and exclaims its no-refusal and its yes-desire.


With Paulo Abreu, Art & Language, Dominique Blain, Désiré-Magloire Bourneville, Shary Boyle, Gilles Caron, Claude Cattelain, Agusti Centelles, Alain Chagnon, CHIM, Pascal Convert, Michel Foucault, Leonard Freed, Marcel Gautherot, Agnès Geoffray, Jochen Gerz, Jack Goldstein, Alvaro Hoppe, Alberto Korda, Germaine Krull, Hiroji Kubota, Suzy Lake, Tina Modotti, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edouard Plante-Fréchette, Willy Romer, Willy Ronis, Blaire Russel, Graciela Sacco, Peter Sibbald, Lorna Simpson, Paul-Henri Talbot, Wolf Vostell, Joyce Wieland, anonymous


3. With words (exclaimed)


2018_Soulevements_TTardifÉtienne Tremblay-Tardif, Éphéméride : l’occupation étudiante de l’École des beaux-arts de Montréal (detail), 2018. Courtesy of the artist © Étienne Tremblay-Tardif


Arms have been raised, mouths have exclaimed. Now, what are needed are words, sentences to say, sing, think, discuss, print, transmit. That is why poets place themselves “at the forefront” of the action itself, as Rimbaud said at the time of the Paris Commune. Upstream the Romantics, downstream the Dadaists, Surrealists, Lettrists, Situationists, etc., all undertook poetic insurrections.

“Poetic” does not mean “far from history,” quite the contrary. There is a poetry of tracts, from the protest leaflet written by Georg Büchner in 1834 to the digital resistance of today, through René Char in 1943 and the “ciné-tracts,” from 1968. There is a poetry particular to the use of newspapers and social networks. There is a particular intelligence—attentive to the form—inherent in the books of resistance or of uprising. Until the walls themselves begin to speak and occupy the public space, the sensible space in its entirety.


With Henri Alleg, Magdeleine Arbour, Antonin Artaud, Ever Astudillo Delgado, Ismaïl Bahri, Marcel Barbeau, Artur Barrio, Georges Bataille, Charles Baudelaire, Paul-Émile Borduas, André Breton, Marcel Broodthaers, Cornelius Castoriadis, Champfleury, Bruno Cormier, Gustave Courbet, Armand Dayot, Guy Debord, École de la montagne rouge, Carl Einstein, Marcelle Ferron-Hamelin, Giselle Freund, Claude Gauvreau, Pierre Gauvreau, Muriel Guilbault, Raymond Hains, Raoul Haussmann, Bernard Heidsieck, Victor Hugo, Richard Igbhy & Marilou Lemmens, Asger Jorn, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Michèle Lalonde, Fernand Leduc, Thérèse Leduc, Claude Lefort, Jérôme Lindon, Germán Marin, Henri Michaux, Tina Modotti, Jean-Paul Mousseau, Jacques Nadeau, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Maurice Perron, Jacques Rancière, Man Ray, Louise Renaud, Françoise Riopelle, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Armando Salgado, Álvaro Sarmiento, Philippe Soupault, Françoise Sullivan, Charles Toubin, Étienne Tremblay-Tardif, Félix Vallotton, Dziga Vertov, Gil Joseph Wolman, anonymous


4. With conflicts (flared up)


2018_Soulevements_VaughanAndrew Vaughan, Untitled [Africville Protest, Eddie Carvery’s trailers], 2015. Courtesy of The Canadian Press © Andrew Vaughan


And so everything flares up. Some see only pure chaos. Others witness the sudden appearance of the forms of a desire to be free. During strikes, ways of living together are invented. To say that we “demonstrate” is to affirm—albeit to be surprised by it or even not to understand it—that something appeared that was decisive. But this demanded a conflict. Conflict: an important motif of modern historical painting (from Manet to Polke), and of the visual arts in general (photography, cinema, video, digital arts).

It happens that uprisings produce merely the image of broken images: vandalism, those kinds of celebrations in negative format. But on these ruins will be built the temporary architecture of uprisings: paradoxical, moving, makeshift things that are barricades. Then, the police suppress the demonstration, when those who rise up had only the potency of their desire (potency: not power). And this is why there are so many people in history who have died from having risen up.


With Ruth Berlau, Dominique Blain, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Augustin Victor Casasola, Augusti Centelles, Chieh-Jen Chen, Honoré Daumier, Armand Dayot, Pascal Dumont, Pedro G. Romero, Stéphane Gilot, Arpad Hazafi, Hugo Aveta, Herbert Kirchhorff, Héctor López, Ernesto Molina, Jean-Luc Moulene, Voula Papaioannou, Hans Richter, Willy Romer, Jésus Ruiz Durand, Armando Salgado, Allan Sekula, Andrew Vaughan, Jean Verber, Malcolm Wilde Browne, anonymous


5. With desires (indestructible)


2018_Soulevements_RamirezEnrique Ramírez, Cruzar un muro, 2013, still from the HD video, color, sound, 5 min 15 s. Courtesy of the artist and Michel Rein Gallery, Paris/Brussels © Enrique Ramírez


But potency outlives power. Freud said that desire was indestructible. Even those who know they are condemned—in the camps, in the prisons—seek every means to transmit a testimony or call out. As Joan Miró evoked in a series of works titled The Hope of a Condemned Man, in homage to the anarchist student Salvador Puig i Antich, executed by Franco’s regime in 1974.

An uprising can end with mothers’ tears over the bodies of their dead children. But these tears are merely a burden: they can still provide the potencies of uprising, like in the “resistance marches” of mothers and grandmothers in Buenos Aires. It is our own children who rise up: Zero for Conduct! Was Antigone not almost a child herself? Whether in the Chiapas forests or on the Greece—Macedonia border, somewhere in China, in Egypt, in Gaza, or in the jungle of computerized networks considered as a vox populi, there will always be children to jump the wall.


With Taysir Batniji, Rebecca Belmore, Francisca Benitez, Ruth Berleau, Bruno Boudjelal, Augustin Victor Casasola, Augusti Centelles, Edouardo Gil, Ken Hamblin, Jeronimo Hernandez, Maria Kourkouta, Jacob Mat, Pedro Motta, Voula Papaioannou, Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza, Enrique Ramírez, anonymouss




Canada Council for the Arts Canada Council for the Arts


Université du Québec à Montréal
1400, Rue Berri, Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, Local J-R 120
Montréal, Québec
Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Free admission