Rebellious arts and writings: dissident images and language resistance

Download a calendar reminder

International Conference
Rebellious arts and writings: dissident images and language resistance
11 – 15 may 2022
Centre Culturel International de Cerisy, Cerisy-la-Salle

To rebel is to go to war again, according to the etymology (Le Robert, online). Placed in a historical perspective, this definition leads us to rethink rebellion in a form that is, if not cyclical, at least recurrent, and to recognize that history is written through the prism of the dissatisfaction of “(he or she) who rebels against the authority of the legitimate government, of an established power.” (CNTRL, online). Starting over readily implies an act of reinvention of both artistic and social or political practices, and rebellion and dissent must be credited with a capacity for inventiveness that reaches all human creations, including, of course, the arts, under the principle that “there is a fundamental affinity between the work of art and the act of resistance.” (Deleuze, 1987).  Since the process of autonomization of the field of the art in the XIXth century (Bourdieu, 1992) and in a social framework of rapid multiplication of the collective actions during the last decades [of the XXth century] (Tarrow, 1993), it is possible to think the art in the society as a passage of the “I” to the “we”, of the artist to the collective. In her article “Art and protest”, Justyne Balasinski returns on the links between arts and the actors of the social claim and underlines that ” [l]oin of this dichotomy between artists and militants, the modalities of these relations [collective engagements, of artists, aesthetic borrowings and militant recoveries of art] are distributed according to a continuum going from the artistic engagement to the aesthetization of the social movements.” (Balasinski, 2009).

In order to insist on this very political articulation, it is not superfluous to remind that ” […] the proper of the artists being their particular aptitude to the manipulation of symbols, this specific ability predisposes them to play a preponderant role in these symbolic struggles that are also, and necessarily, the social and political struggles (including the most “materialist” of them). Any social movement involving what David Snow (2001) calls a work of signification understood as an activity of construction of meaning which involves or aims at the same time its members, its sympathizers and its opponents.” (Balasinski and Mathieu, 2010) Yet this work exposes “[r]elations of domination [that] are also relations of resistance.” (Scott, 2008) Thus, it is to an unceasing and fruitful tension that the rebel arts are subjected. If, as the manifesto Pour un art révolutionnaire indépendant (Breton, Rivera/Trotsky, 1938) states, “Art can only be revolutionary”, it seems appropriate to return, today, in the era of the exponential explosion of online images, to the immense visual reservoir that we have received in order to question its impact, measure its legacy and draw its filiations or ruptures. This set of paintings, photographs, films, posters, graffiti deserve that we look at the history that has been made of them, on the methodologies of the analysis of which the works have been the object as much as on the writings produced on and from the visual arts, when the artists have chosen to disobey.

More than seventy years after Sartre’s famous definition of the engaged artist, who considered that “To speak is to act: anything that is named is no longer quite the same, it has lost its innocence” (1947), this colloquium proposes to analyze the current reconfigurations of resistance in art, by questioning in particular its modalities and strategies of predilection in a globalized and hyper-mediatized world. It will thus be a question of studying in what the emergence of new epistemologies could deeply modify the statute of art, by making enter the field of the knowledge certain artistic practices formerly non-existent, ignored or despised.

We have chosen to focus not on a cultural area but on a network of relationships: those of the so-called Western world articulated to the worlds of the “South”. This double articulation will allow us to consider the dominant orientation by inscribing it in its colonial or neo-imperial history. These geographies in tension have experienced multiple and diverse forms of rebellion and revolutions, but also ways of living democracy and claiming individual freedoms that have been fruitful for creation. In the complex system of recent globalization, the crises of democracy also raise the question of a possible updating of knowledge from postcolonial resistance, which is itself being critically re-evaluated in a decolonial perspective (Mignolo, Quijano, Moraña, Richard, Rivera Cusicanqui). Similarly, queer and gender studies, through their common effort to decompartmentalize and denaturalize, as well as their insistence on the “theatricality of gender” (Butler, 2009), encourage a rethinking of our traditional perception of the nature and function of art based on a new conception of the subject, the consequences of which regarding the figure, role, and power of the artist remain to be studied. Thus, the possibility of resisting or disobeying is all the more elusive as the meaning of revolt has become ambiguous: who are the real rebels? facing which oppressors? and for what effects?

It is a rebellious and inventive thought of dissent in the arts and writings that this colloquium will seek to examine. If, according to Edward Said, the art of contra-diction could be the specificity of art, it is also the respective “infrapolitical” resistances (Scott) of literature and visual arts that we will question. The aim of this colloquium is to explore the creative scope of the rebellious image and writing, both as a representation of rebellion and as something that resists analysis, and to invite its participants to a kind of archaeology of the visual and textual imagination in the contemporary era, an archaeological exploration that we want to be resolutely multidisciplinary, transnational, historical and aesthetic.



Reception of the participants


Presentation of the Center, the conferences and the participants


Performance, une corpopolitique des arts?

Juan Albarrán (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Santiago Sierra et les sujets de la résistance

Béatrice Josse (Magasin des horizons), Contre l’art des œuvres d’art

Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes (University of Michigan), Transformisme et politique dans les Caraïbes hispanophones (Cuba et Porto Rico)


Les contre-narrativités

Paula Barreiro López (Université Grenoble-Alpes), De retour à l’archive visuelle révolutionnaire : pratiques artistiques mondialisées et leurs spectres tricontinentaux

Michèle SorianoCréations collectives dans le cinéma contre-hégémonique argentin

Pascale Thibaudeau (Université Paris 8), Contre la normativité du visible : les nouveaux paris cinématographiques d’Ainhoa Rodríguez


Homage to Anne-Laure Bonvalot (1983-2022) – Reading of texts


Résistance de la langue, à l’intersection des voies/x rebelles

Florian Alix (Sorbonne Université)Réécriture de l’Histoire coloniale au féminin : médiation et sensation chez Assia Djebar (La Femme sans sépulture), Anna Moï (Riz noir) et Léonora Miano (La Saison de l’ombre)

Sylvie ServoiseLes “romans à voix” de Lyonel Trouillot : l’égalité en acte ?

Patrick Savidan, Résister avec Adorno : l’art et la manière

Patrick SavidanRésister avec Adorno : l’art et la manière


Pratiques artistiques du sud global, entre décolinialité et normalisation

Julia Ramírez-Blanco (Universidad de Barcelona), Vers une iconographie des contre-cultures anti-industrielles

Valérie Magdelaine-Andrianjafitrimo (Université de la Réunion), Créer et éditer depuis l’océan Indien : pratiques rebelles ou normalisation de l’expression artistique ?


Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes : Cabaret tropical (performance)


“On se lève et on se casse” (virginie despentes)

Claire Laguian (Université Paris 8), Les nouvelles Guérillèreslesbiennes dans la poésie espagnole contemporaine

Meri Torras (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona), Se rebeller pour écrire et pour aimer : La insumisade Cristina Peri Rossi

Nathalie Watteyne (Université de Sherbrooke), Femmes, colère et poésie au Québec : Carole David, Monique Deland et Natasha Kanapé Fontaine




María Ruido (Universidad de Barcelona), Autour de Estado de malestar, film-essai sur la folie comme forme de résistance (visioconférence)


Subjectivités et esthétiques rebelles

Romuald FonkouaLéon-Gontran Damas, les voies rebelles de l’anthropologie et de la poésie

Nadia Louar (Universitñe Wisconsin-Oshkosh), Les postures insolentes de Virginie Despentes

Inès HorchianiGazelle théorie, une expérience d’écriture rebelle

Closing workshop of the conference, with PhD students Cristina Garcia Martinez (S. Kerfa – UGA), Sihong Lin (E. Lloze – UJM) et Juliette Stella & Murielle Vauthier (Y. Parisot – UPEC)



Direction: Idoli Castro (Université Lumière Lyon 2), Sonia Kerfa (Université Grenoble Alpes), Sophie Large (Université Tours), Evelyne Lloze (Université Saint-Étienne), Yolaine Parisot (Université Paris-Est Créteil)