by Marcel Blouin
Onee again, the words “budgetary cuts” are on the rise. My commitment to the field of photography has been active since 1980, and it seems to me that these words, synonymous with worry, have been uttered for the thousandth time. With the exception that this time, however, the abyss into which we are about to plummet is far from being “virtual.” Quite the contrary, it appears particularly “real” and deeper than ever.
For every sound conservative government, no matter which, “budgetary cuts” signifies closing in on the weaker of the groups in want, those that are hard put to fend for themselves, and that our governments willingly define as the “least necessary.” In other words, there is little hope for those who aren’t represented by active lobbying or pressure groups. Thus, the orders from above are that social services and the arts are to undergo serious budgetary cuts, for “we can no longer afford such superfluity.”
If, as I, you were somewhere near twenty years of age in 1980, it is rather difficult to be told by the Minister of Finance that you have sufficiently benefited from the system and that the time has come to tighten your belt and pay the bills. I’m well aware that Québec and Canada are not to be compared to Yugoslavia, but there are limits to being so callous.
Then there is the uncanny phenomenon of when the going gets tough, two distinct directions become feasible without us knowing which of the two will come to pass: “solidarity” or “to each his own.” One need not refer to the quantum theory of mathematics in order to surmise that a certain number of reactions are always unpredictable, considering that there is more than one way to look upon reality. Therefore, it is safe to say that the expenditure cut-backs in the arts field may encourage bonding just as easily as hoarding. More than ever, we must be clairvoyant and discerning, and able to differentiate between the intent of discourse and true action. The ability to decode has become a must, as codification, decodification and modes of perception of reality are concepts that offer insight and comprehension beyond photography.
As artists, most of us are rebels, insofar as we refuse to stand by as art disappears, and along with it, a certain form of intellectualism, an essential thought process that nearly always concludes with the same interrogation: who are we? In a context of intellectual emptiness, of budgetary cut-backs, and of conservatism, the artist becomes a resister, an endangered species. It is imperative, then, that we establish the value of our work and our function. And we must do so before it’s too late, before we become labelled as rejects or undesirable, before we bear the brunt of social contempt… Because alas, it is true, in the wonderful world of precariousness, of unemployment and social welfare, we are but too often perceived as parasites.
In creating an exhibition space within an art magazine, les Productions Ciel Variable are carrying out, to some extent, a political gesture. Bevond discourse and intent, each and every gesture made, no matter how small, can help to serve the cause of artists and their work. The presentation of photographs and the publication of artist portfolios are necessary gestures, but oh how incomprehensible in a society that, above all, values productivity, profitability, comfort and conformism.
We welcome you to CVphoto number 30, to our space and shelter of resistance, while hoping that the visual arts milieu will opt for solidarity and clairvoyance during the critical times we will be facing throughout 1995.
Translated by Jennifer Couëlle