The Edge
Remain Upright /
The 2020 Thematic Members’
Virtual Exhibition
Access to the Virtual Exhibition
Remain Upright”: this exhortation to stand upright, dignified and combative in the face of adversity encountered over the course of a human lifetime, could very well summarize the mindset flowing through this exhibition. An exhibition composed of 41 artist proposals selected from an open call by the IAC, to which 143 of its international artist members responded, on the occasion of its 49th Congress in Rovaniemi, Finland. These 41 proposals aesthetically describe and comment on the sorry state of a world where the horizontal alignment of all for all, operating generally at the bottom, to the rhythm of rapid economic and cultural globalization with appalling consequences (limitless liberalism, over-consumption, mental conditioning, dramatic climate change), leaves a large part of humanity destitute, weakened, by the wayside... suffice to say “On the Edge”, the unifying theme of the debates which animate the conferences of this Congress. How can one comfortably live and create at the heart of this devastating state of the world? “Remain Upright” resonates like a slogan that can be heard collectively (from loudspeakers, demonstrations, with the corresponding political commitment…). However, it can just as easily be experienced and formulated at an individual level, from inside, like a mantra that one might whisper to oneself in order to confront, subsist, find the courage to move forward and - why not - progress further in one's creative practice and in life. Yet, from these unanimously worrying observations emanates a lot of hope, conviction, and strength, united by a material of choice, clay, from which artists today draw inspiration and reasoning to live better lives. For them, the earth is more than ever the material of an eternal return to the fundamentals of what it is to be human: simultaneously a source of realism and utopia, of local rooting (doing things by oneself with the materials at hand), and imaginary prospecting (collectively contributing to a better world based on values of solidarity; an artistic “actionism”, in a way). They prove it to us through a veritable wealth of creative proposals, which share a sense of responsibility and a remarkable desire for resistance and vigilance.
The earth is the quintessential material of construction, symbolically but also pragmatically; it is the oldest and the most remanent. It is archaic, but it can in many ways constitute a remedy for our future. It is not closed off from its long past. This first section of the exhibition brings together artists focused on observing their creative process, whether they use traditional working methods or seek assistance from new technologies such as 3D design or digital video, in order to communicate differently the eminently contemporary expressive possibilities of ceramics. With the earth as a medium, one can choose to master technical protocols, to be an amateur, or to seek out the example of the “masters”. We can just as easily “let it come”, by trusting only our instincts, learning only from observing the behaviour of matter as we go along. “Build, Destroy, Re-build” corresponds well with the ritual of a ceramicist’s life, paved with acquired skills and “sublime” failures, as these will undoubtedly open up new avenues of creation. Experimentation is essential when it is at the service of personal expression and the message, as well as grounded in its time. Thus, to take inspiration from what is around you, to gather information from everywhere, to tinker, to ironize, to be “post-modern”; that is to say, to re-read, redo, criticize and be aware that if everything seems to have already been produced, everything remains to be.
This section brings together the collective point of view and the individual perception of major current issues such as social conflicts engendering urban violence, the migration of populations arising from geopolitical conflicts, the stark contrasts in living conditions between the North and the South, the East and the West of the planet. The selected proposals present this alarming observation from different points of view: international, intercontinental, or, conversely, restricted to the more local context of daily activity. Re-reading history to understand the roots of evil, testifying with the support of striking media images (sometimes crude or literal in form), or even conceiving more abstract but metaphorical forms so to alert and convey in a more universal and delocalized way. Installations on the floors and walls take over the space, developing a dramaturgy of danger. A disturbing sculptural landscape is thus revealed, ready to take ceramics out of its comfort zone (we who still often associate the ceramic object with the comfort of our domestic lives, our “sweet home”...). Here, before our very eyes, each everyday object, each human or animal figure, realistic or transposed, contributes to erecting a theatre in which disturbing ghosts of the collective unconscious stir, populated by solitary individuals with blurred identities, all in search of reconstruction.
Climate change, along with worrying pollution that seriously threatens our life on earth in the very short term, constitutes one of the most widely questioned subjects in the selection of visual proposals in this section. Artists are reacting to limits and restrictions that are sure to dramatically change our lifestyles, even though we still are having a hard time leaving “our world before”. In the face of looming disaster, we need to understand where this is coming from. Creative contributions are thus foraying into the fields of Geology, Archaeology, and focusing on “long time”, that of scientific research, History and Mythology. In any event, it is the desire to deepen the roots of local human settlement, of the root cause of disturbances and civilisational ruptures that prevails in the reflections of these artists. To improve current living conditions, they want to first understand where these limitations come from; these restrictions that threaten us, everything that has gradually separated man from his natural environment. The local landscape in which they work becomes the emblematic site of their struggle, as well as their aesthetic reference, their major challenge being to be able to artistically contribute to the implementation of a sustainable ecology, encouraging us to make better use of natural resources.
For those who practice it, the art of ceramics encompasses moments of wonder, intense emotion, catharsis, and even the resolution of trauma. It is a privileged field of expression for those who need to connect with others, to relate to the outside world in a playful or therapeutic way. Manipulating the earth, producing Zen-like or edgy forms according to one's temperament and circumstances; which can in any event be a universally understandable and faithful reflection of a mineral or vegetal “song of the world”; which can act as a language of peace and of focus. Malleable, fluid, present everywhere at minimal cost, the earth’s material offers itself as an antidote to depression, boredom, pain and seclusion. The artists in this section have made it a spiritual viaticum to achieve much sought-after mental balance. They view the daily manipulation of clay as a social bond, a vector of exchange, expansiveness, and interactivity for those who want to escape the loneliness of the studio. In their eyes it is a poetic and spiritual medium like no other, of which the stages of metamorphosis and fusion by fire metaphorically restore those on their own path of spiritual transformation. Thanks to it they express their desire for renewal, jubilation, freedom, humour. A material that responds just as well - as we can see - to the order to “Remain Upright” as it does to “let go”...
To ensure a better browsing experience, we invite you to view the exhibition on a computer screen.