Accused of pandering to the far-right ahead of Frances federal election in 2022, President Emmanuel Macron attempted a balancing act. In January 2021, the leaders party said it would create a memories and truth commission on Frances painful colonial history and war with Algeria. In March, it released a report on the positive contributions of individuals of immigrant backgrounds called Portraits of France.
These initiatives are part of a broader effort to find alternative solutions to growing demands for the removal of statues and street names honoring historical figures that are connected to Frances colonial past, including its slave trade. Yet, at the same time, Macron and some of his ministers have been igniting emotions as they publicly denounce forces that they see as stoking so-called separatism, including what many see as US-style political correctness and cancel culturethe latter of which is a largely unpopular but growing concept in Franceas well as a perceived US-version of multiculturalism.
Recent events within and outside of France have further stoked this fire. The #MeToo movement has been met with uneven hostility. The October decapitation of a teacher who showed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad during a course on free speech has led to a new bill against separatism, which aims to combat Islamic radicalism. And the protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the US last year have prompted renewed conversation about the nature of racism in France, and put the countrys old ways of cultural assimilation on trial.
Against this backdrop of a culture war that shows little signs of abating, artistic projects remain a powerful place for progressive discourse in Franceeven as some factions in the country move to denounce what many have called an importation of Americas discourse on identity politics.
President of France Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images.
As warring factions argue over how to integrate populations of citizens descended from former colonies, a new resurgent left, notably marked by young people from within the very populations at the center of the issue, has been pushing back against the countrys universalist social model, which traditionally downplayssome would say ignorescultural differences between citizens. The traditional style of governance aims to avoid what is often viewed as an Americanized version of warring ethnic and religious groups.
In a Le Monde editorial from March, supporters of the presidents Portraits of France project said that playwrights, filmmakers, and painters should seize upon these life stories and make works of art out of them that speak to our society and our world. They added that by ignoring a part of our shared past, we have made it harder to understand our present and to write our future.
But these cultural in-roads are not always met with open arms. The executive branch of French government has specifically singled out academia, including the social science fields of post-colonial and intersectional studies, saying that these areas are under risk of influence from radical agendas that are pitting communities against each other. It also announced in February a sweeping investigation into the presence of Islamo-gauchismea term loosely referring to extreme-left activists who are complacent toward radical forms of Islamism or who apologize for terrorismin universities. As a result, many are worried about censorship in schools and that scholarly research into the darker chapters of Frances history is under threat.
Emo de Medeiros notwithstanding the forces at hand (2018).Collection MACAAL / Fondation Alliances ADAGP, Paris, 2021. On view with the exhibition Ce qui soublie et ce qui reste currently on view at the Palais de la Porte Dore.
This debate spewed over into the art world when a government-commissioned portrait series of women publicly displayed in March in Paris, which was designed to celebrate diversity by featuring images of professionals from an array of different fields, sparked a vicious response. The photographs in 109 Mariannes became fodder for controversy due to the inclusion of the young astrophysicist Fatoumata Kb who was singled out for her headscarf. Angered that Kb was chosen to emblematize Marianne, the personification of the French Republic often seen interpreted in art or on stamps, former spokesperson for the right-leaning Republican party, Lydia Guirou, was among the angry tweeters: Marianne is not and will NEVER wear the headscarf!
The sentiment dovetails with a draft bill that the Senate amended this month to forbid chaperones on school field trips from wearing Muslim headscarves. The bill has been strongly criticized for stigmatizing Muslims and called an overreach of Frances already strict secular laws, which forbid the wearing of clearly visible religious symbols in schools, and by civil servants.
Visitors look at The Slave for sale (1873) painting by Jean-Leon Gerome during the press visit of the exhibition Black models: from Gericault to Matisse at the Musee dOrsay in Paris on March 25, 2019. Photo: Francois Guillot/ AFP) via Getty Images.
Despite instances of incendiary reactions, the cultural sphere is being won over by a new wave of progressive viewpoints and views are indeed changing. A younger generation has become eager to more openly focus on the topic of race and difference. French citizens of immigrant descent are raising their voices to say that, in practice, their identities are under-represented in a society that discriminates against them for their inherent differences. With a sense of irony, they describe a society which claims to be blind to those differences while demanding that any outward signs of that differencefor example, hijabsare avoided, to best fit a cultural mold.
We like the idea of universalism, because its a kind of utopia But its easier to go to Mars than to the land of universalism, Nadine Houkpatintold Artnet News. She is co-curator with Cline Seror of a show that includes work by artists from Africa and its diaspora called Memoria: accounts of another Historythat is on view until November at the Frac-Nouvelle Acquitaine MECA in Bordeaux. Houkpatin notes that while a new generation has indeed been inspired by some of the woke political ideas stemming from the US, the theorists behind many of these left-leaning ideas are often of French origin.
Views of the exhibition Memoria: Tales of another History at the Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MCA. Photos: Galle Deleflie.
The curators of the Bordeaux show surmise that, when it comes to discussing these issues through art, people have an easier time accepting more progressive, controversial topics. I think that through art, we can address these questions that are essential, said Seror. Art gives a certain liberty that enables us to express ourselves about these subjects, she added.
Indeed, it seems that the art world has been somewhat shielded: Responses were overwhelmingly positive to the two shows, despite the debates going on in the public realm. The show at Muse dOrsay even received a nod from a critic who supports the governments investigation into academics. I saw the exhibition, and very much appreciated it, said Nathalie Heinich, a sociologist who has published work on contemporary art. She is in favor of the French governments recent stance against radical intellectual currents that come from elsewhere and a signatory in an editorial in Le Monde that described them as feeding a hatred for whites.
Immigration Museum director Pap Ndiaye, a French historian, poses during a photo session, outside the museum in Paris on March 5, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP) (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Pap Ndiaye, the historian and new director of Frances immigration museum, the Palais de la Porte-Dore, recently told reporters that he too is concerned by the pushback on academia. It comes at a moment when post-colonial and intersectional questions are beginning to find their very small space in French universities, he said. If we stop teaching them, where will the students go? The Paris museum he oversees is currently showing an exhibit on the immigrant experience that includes 18 artists from Africa and its diasporait is a poignant explorationof artistic diversity and it falls on the 90th anniversary of the museum, which infamously opened with an exhibition to celebrate the colonies and included human exhibits.
The title of the show at Ndiayes museum, Ce qui soublie et ce qui reste, which translates to What is forgotten and what remains, also seems to ask what traces of this dark past remain in the popular subconscious today. It is on view until July.
While the government and certain factions of the population continue to rail against the universities, art institutions are set to become an increasingly singular voice for pressing questions about post-colonialism in France. When an artist presents [their work] in a museum that is open to the public, then we can start talking about colonialism, decolonization, and its impact on society, said curator Seror. Thats the power of art.
Originally posted here:
- Plastic waste-to-energy tech is being unrolled in Hungary and Greece - Power Technology - May 11th, 2021
- Powerhouse's waste-to-hydrogen technology to roll out in Greece and Hungary - H2 View - May 11th, 2021
- China's Tianwen-1 mission getting set to try and land Zhurong rover on Mars - ABC News - May 11th, 2021
- Letter: 'Origins of wokeness/critical race theory (CRT)' - Brown County Democrat - May 11th, 2021
- Where is Everybody? Are Big Incentives the Only Way to Attract Good Workers Post-Covid? - CEOWORLD magazine - May 11th, 2021
- HBO Max & Utopia Pick Up Sundance Coming-Of-Age Horror Were All Going To The Worlds Fair - Deadline - May 9th, 2021
- Farewell the utopian city. To cope with climate change we must learn from how nature adapts - The Conversation AU - May 9th, 2021
- A critique: Where Marx (1818-1883) was right and why he was wrong on the demise of capitalism - National Herald - May 9th, 2021
- Autonomous Vehicles Aren't the FuturePublic Transportation Is - The New Republic - May 9th, 2021
- Coldplay Says There 'Won't Not Be' A New Album On The Way - UPROXX - May 9th, 2021
- League of Legends Arcane, Riots new animated show, coming to Netflix - Polygon - May 9th, 2021
- Miranda Lamberts The Marfa Tapes tops this weeks new releases - cleveland.com - May 9th, 2021
- Frieze New York is kicking off: heres what not to miss - Wallpaper* - May 9th, 2021
- Masks on, or hands off the library - Bonner County Daily Bee - May 9th, 2021
- Bath Mats Market to Enjoy 'Explosive Growth' by 2025 The Shotcaller - The Shotcaller - May 9th, 2021
- Broadway re-opening dates: Here's the latest updates on shows' returns - Asbury Park Press - May 9th, 2021
- COLUMN: Politics and markets - St. Albert Today - May 9th, 2021
- Down to earth: how escaping to the country isnt always what it seems - The Guardian - May 9th, 2021
- The pro-life movement has much to celebrate this Mother's Day - Washington Examiner - May 9th, 2021
- Malaysia in dystopia while seeking the Utopian dream - Free Malaysia Today - May 9th, 2021
- Van Herk: Is defiance of authority embedded in the DNA of Albertans? - Calgary Herald - May 9th, 2021
- Features | In Conversation | Modular Therapy: Daniel Miller And Steve Davis In Conversation - The Quietus - May 9th, 2021
- Silver coins unearthed in New England may be loot from one of the 'greatest crimes in history' - Livescience.com - April 25th, 2021
- Revolutionaries and their shadowy networks come alive in Tim Harpers new book - The Indian Express - April 25th, 2021
- A New Front in the Fight for Reproductive Rights - Global Press Journal - April 25th, 2021
- China invokes mythic god of war and fire for its Mars rover name - New York Post - April 25th, 2021
- Before the Oscars On Sunday Check Out This Top 10 List - KPBS - April 25th, 2021
- Where Every Coupling Depends on Lies, and Men Are Aliens - The New York Times - April 21st, 2021
- Sun Ra's Chicago: Afrofuturism And The City - Jazz Journal - April 21st, 2021
- Offspring's first new album in nine years, 5 Things to Know - The Oakland Press - April 21st, 2021
- Broadway Baby: Michael Kors on 50 Years of Opening Nights, Diva Crushes and a Dream Revival - WWD - April 21st, 2021
- '60 Songs That Explain the '90s': How Bjrk Became a Genre Unto Herself - The Ringer - April 21st, 2021
- TODAY in SUPES: Cautious Optimism on Local COVID Conditions, Plus the Latest Measure Z Awards and a Bracing Dose of Pension Funding Policy Talk - Lost... - April 21st, 2021
- A New Try With UBI: As Wrongheaded As Before - Forbes - April 21st, 2021
- Brexit uncertainty and inconsistency means UK-EU food trade is still in limbo - The Grocer - April 21st, 2021
- 17.04.2129.05.21, Cape Town | Art of Everyday Things - ZAM - ZAM Magazine - April 21st, 2021
- Local events planned in honor of Earth Day - goskagit.com - April 21st, 2021
- Qurans verses need to be reviewed. But by Islamic scholars, not Supreme Court of India - ThePrint - April 21st, 2021
- San Franciscans still live in 1906 earthquake shacks. Here's why they matter more than ever - San Francisco Chronicle - April 21st, 2021
- From dystopia to utopia: How UK co-working spaces are redefining the new normal - UKTN (UK Technology News - April 15th, 2021
- Artist Danny Cole on Dreams of A Utopia of Creatures and Vandalism - Observer - April 15th, 2021
- New England has one of the most epic national park bike rides in America, according to Bicycling magazine - Boston.com - April 15th, 2021
- Offspring guitarist Noodles explains why the bands new album took 9 years to finish - San Bernardino County Sun - April 15th, 2021
- Gagarin's March: 60th Anniversary of the First Human in Space - National Air and Space Museum - April 15th, 2021
- Roxy Ball Room Merrion Street set to reveal supersize gaming utopia | TheBusinessDesk.com - The Business Desk - April 15th, 2021
- Yugoslav architect Svetlana Kana Radevi is saluted at the Venice Architecture Biennale - The Architect's Newspaper - April 15th, 2021
- The Sonic Extremes of the MaerzMusik Festival - The New Yorker - April 15th, 2021
- Top 10 Female Life Coaches That Will Impact Your Life in 2021 - GlobeNewswire - April 15th, 2021
- When the newest big name addition to Nuneaton's Ropewalk Shopping Centre will open - Coventry Live - April 15th, 2021
- How to get on board Nottingham's Grub Run - fitness with a tasty reward - Nottinghamshire Live - April 15th, 2021
- Letters to the editor April 15 - Daily Inter Lake - April 15th, 2021
- Systems control: Introducing a new way of thinking about the climate crisis - The Spinoff - April 15th, 2021
- Belfast is ready to bounce back | Insight - Property Week - April 15th, 2021
- Is the Music Over at Mills College? - The New York Times - March 31st, 2021
- NFTs are leading to a new financial dystopia. Here's why you should care. - America Magazine - March 31st, 2021
- The Victorian Utopia Hidden In The Middle Of Tennessee - TravelAwaits - March 31st, 2021
- Why I am a communist: Activist Kobad Ghandy on ideology and Utopia - Scroll.in - March 31st, 2021
- 'Diana: The Musical' Will Premiere on Netflix This October - Decider - March 31st, 2021
- Shut out: Why the United Nations is no utopia - Stuff.co.nz - March 31st, 2021
- Greater Manchester town dubbed 'utopia' and named one of the best places to live in the country - Manchester Evening News - March 31st, 2021
- How things will have changed a century from now - www.ekathimerini.com - March 31st, 2021
- Jury out on link between new NRL rules and spate of injuries - The Guardian - March 31st, 2021
- Director Wayne Che Yip joins Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series - Televisual - March 31st, 2021
- Big Hits new ventures might just reshape the music industry worldwide and for the better - NME.com - March 31st, 2021
- Ryuho Okawa, World Teacher and Happy Science CEO, Publishes The True Eightfold Path: Guideposts for Self-Innovation - PR Web - March 31st, 2021
- 2nd international conference on Utopian and Sacred Architecture Studies - Winnipeg Free Press - March 31st, 2021
- Montreal filmmaker Peter Wintonick is the subject of a very personal new film - Cult MTL - March 26th, 2021
- Speaking of Religion | Nancy Thompson: The Journey Out of Slavery - Bennington Banner - March 26th, 2021
- The Long March Through the Corporations - Heritage.org - March 26th, 2021
- Graz Museum imagines the city in the future through a new exhibition - TheMayor.EU - March 26th, 2021
- Theater Review: Polis/Reset at the Volksbhne in Berlin - The New York Times - March 26th, 2021
- Green spaces aren't just for nature they boost our mental health too - New Scientist - March 26th, 2021
- 'Invincible' Is Packed With Pulpy, Visceral Thrills And Lots Of Pulpy Viscera - Capital Public Radio News - March 26th, 2021
- Talentopia Announces Merger of Impactian and Aims to Recruit Top Remote Technology and Legal Writers - Law.com - March 26th, 2021
- Two Cheshire towns named among the best places to live in the North West - The Chester Standard - March 26th, 2021
- Kaitlyn Greenidge: Song of Solomon is "WAP" of the Bible' - Los Angeles Times - March 25th, 2021
- Diplomacy at the dinner table The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle - The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle - March 25th, 2021
- Looking back at the lockdown - The New Indian Express - March 25th, 2021
- UVA and the History of Race: The Era of Massive Resistance - University of Virginia - March 25th, 2021
- The 'woke' 63rd Grammys in review The Miscellany News - Miscellany News - March 25th, 2021