Soulèvements — Carte blanche à Georges Didi-Huberman


Drawing, print, installation, painting...

Carte blanche à Georges Didi-Huberman

Past: October 18, 2016 → January 15, 2017

Uprisings is a trans-disciplinary exhibition on the theme of human gestures that raise up the world or rise up against it: collective or individual gestures, actions or passions, works or thoughts. They are gestures which say no to a state of history that is considered too “heavy” and that therefore needs to be “lifted” or even sent packing. They are also gestures that say yes to something else: to a desired better world, an imagined or adumbrated world, a world that could be inhabited and conceived differently.

These figures of uprising and up-raising will range freely across mediums: paintings, drawings, prints, video installations, photographs, fiction films, documentary images, writers’ manuscripts, tracts, posters, etc., without hierarchies. The exhibition sequence will follow a sensitive, intuitive path along which the gaze can focus on exemplary “cases” treated with a precision that prevents any kind of generalisation. We will be mindful not to conclude, not to dogmatically foreclose anything. The sequence will comprise five main parts: elements, gestures, words, conflicts, desires.


The elements are unstable. To raise them is to unleash them. Unleashings that lash out like storms or hurricanes. That is how Victor Hugo described the Parisian insurrection in Les Misérables. Those great films Strike by Eisenstein and Soy Cuba by Kalatozov link human uprisings with admirable atmospheric movements. To invent new artistic forms, Duchamp and Man Ray “raised dust” while the Dadaist slogan proclaimed that “Dada raises everything!” In Jean Vigo, a slow storm of feathers accompanies the rebellion of the children in Zéro de conduite. Sigmar Polke conceived the political image as “thermodynamics”. And many contemporary artists, notably Hélio Oiticica, Francis Alÿs, Roman Signer, Tim Sharp and Ismaïl Bahri, address social issues through the representation of “uprisings” that begin by affecting the space around us.

Jeu de paume soulevements tsubasa kato medium
Tsubasa Kato, Break it before it’s broken (Casse-le avant qu’il ne casse), 2015 Vidéo couleur, son — 4’49’’ © Tsubasa Kato / caméraman : Taro Aoishi


The gestures are intense: to rise is to act or be activated. Whether raising something up or rising up oneself, what is at work is always a gesture of the body. Goya’s Porter, an unforgettable image of the social burden to be borne, is now replaced by the same artist’s image of a man with his arms raised, a man who seems to have thrown his sufferings overboard and is crying out his desire for freedom. Later, Nietzsche pictured himself “philosophizing with a hammer” (an object also found in Antonin Artaud and Joseph Beuys). From the great painters of the revolutionary 19th century (Courbet, Daumier) to photographers (Centelles and Chim, Cartier-Bresson and Gilles Caron) and film and video artists (Chris Marker, Harun Farocki), the visual arts help us understand how the strength of uprisings always involve certain forms of the body: when the body says no, and shows it.

Jeu de paume soulevements gilles caron medium
Gilles Caron, Manifestations anticatholiques à Londonderry, 1969 © Gilles Caron / Fondation Gilles Caron / Gamma Rapho


Watchwords: uprisings are written down. In 1848 Baudelaire composed a magnificent text for Le Salut public on “The Beauty of the People.” Breton led his Révolution surréaliste in lines of poetry. Man Ray provided images to the anarchist journal Mother Earth. García Lorca calligraphed a magnificent “Mierda!” while Artaud and Henri Michaux provoked veritable graphic uprisings. As for Marcel Broodthaers, he deliberately confused poetic uprisings with political uprisings. We observe that when making an activisit text — a brochure, tract, or poster — form is part of the content, as in Heartfield, as in Jorn (with Debord), and in the remarkable production of political books in Latin America. Forms that the “great artists” (Raymond Hains, Beuys, Godard, Polke, Art and Language) turn into extraordinary variations, as do anonymous creators elsewhere (from Tiqqun to the Chiapas).

Jeu de paume soulevements sigmar polke medium
Sigmar Polke, Gegen die zwei Supermächte — für eine rote Schweiz (1ère version), 1976 Spray sur papier, pochoir © The Estate of Sigmar Polke, Cologne/ADAGP, Paris, 2016


Violence: uprisings destroy. Visual artists document this: the photographer Ruth Berlau (companion of Bertolt Brecht), the filmmaker Eisenstein and the artist Jean-Luc Moulène responding to strikes. Painters (George Grosz, Andy Warhol) and photographers (Allan Sekula, Koen Wessin) responding to demonstrations. Some (Jorn, Pedro G. Romero) even call for iconoclasm. Others (from Manet to Centelles) observe how a barricade is raised. Others (Álvarez Bravo, Rauschenberg, Richter) witness the death of peoples. All — from the first photograph of a barricade by Thibault in 1848 up to, say, the young video artists witnessing the Arab revolutions in today’s world — are heirs to Goya and his Disasters.


After Spinoza, Freud taught us that man’s desires are indestructible. Rising up is therefore a hope, an imagining, a reaching into the future. Even if the conflict will end in imminent death, sending out a sign or an image is an act of resistance and sharing, an uprising: images of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau, graffiti in Greek prisons photographed by Boula Papaioannou, The Hope of a Condemned Man by Joan Miró… Today, this is embodied in the way migrants strive to cross borders (Antoine d’Agata) or the Syrians turn their own living conditions into images (Abou Naddara collective). This appeal to the future could only end with youth and childhood: Brecht’s Antigone, the students of 1968, kids hurling paving in Belfast or stones in Gaza, the desaparecidos children of Buenos Aires. But desire uplifts us, and that is what can be seen in the images of this exhibition.

Curator: Georges Didi-Huberman

Exhibition produced by the Jeu de Paume

08 Paris 8 Zoom in 08 Paris 8 Zoom out

1, place de la Concorde

75008 Paris

T. 01 47 03 12 50


Opening hours

Every day except Monday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Late night on Tuesday until 9 PM

Admission fee

Full rate €11,20 — Concessions €8,70