Get Up #1

04-27th Oct. 2013, Fabrica de Pensule Cluj-Napoca - RO

Bertille Bak, Julien Berthier, Vlad Nancă, Mircea Nicolae, Guillaume Robert et Nicolas Coltice, BIP - Bureau d’Investigation Photographique, Les Frères Ripoulain, Société Réaliste

Curation: Ann Stouvenel (Mains d’Œuvres, Saint-Ouen)


“The specific practice of democracy around the world hinges on differences of context. Since the 19th century various forms have developed within nation-states governed by a steadily increasing number of laws, well-established institutions and a basic system of popular representation. Consensus is becoming the rule within these systems, in which confrontation is no longer admissible; and simultaneously the modes of functioning of different nations are intermingling in a world evolving into one great global empire. It is time to analyse the way this new order works and is implemented. And so begins a long period of construction, not between peoples but between governments; does this mean that democracy, so crucial a part of popular aspirations, represents only a sanctimonious utopia?

At European level signs of disenchantment with democracy are beginning to cast doubt on its feasibility. Isolationism and withdrawal into the private sphere are now perceptible and the disengagement born of emphasis on short-term individual needs is going counter to the shaping of a better, shared future. In the present context, what is the future of a democracy whose model seems obsolete and in which people can take no active part? Can autonomous subgroups, notably those materialising out of the freedoms of the World Wide Web and the culture of insurrection, be considered real forms of opposition?

What would seem to be important in rethinking the implementation of democracy is cutting free of our main image of it – the political regime – as an aggregate of procedures and institutions, and returning to its definition as a set of values and a real mode of collective living. To make artistic experimentation a core part of the debate, the exhibition Get Up is presenting poetic and political works of urban origin that summon us to self-questioning.

The agora was once the cradle of community practices, but is it still the locus for popular expression and representation? The urban context now seems boxed in by rationales of comfort and safety, but even so, when it comes to making demands or calling for the construction of a democratic imagination, people continue to fall back on these places of assembly, and even create new ones. Insurrection, often born in the agora, represents a dysfunction of democracy and as such remains a major resource in putting our institutions to rights. It can also be considered a paroxysmal form of democracy, even though it is constrained by no government and no constitution, and is not yet under threat of betrayal. In restoring sovereignty to the people, can this capacity for resistance and self-assertion symbolise the very essence of democracy and thus constitute a model for its attainment? Does not the richness of democracy lie in its critical capability and its incompletion?”


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