¨it is an obligation
towards others to be happy¨
Alain, Propos sur le bonheur.
The Manif d'art is in its second edition. The theme
this time around is “Happiness and Pretence”.
We chose happiness (who wouldn’t) because our
consumer society appears governed by the concept. Happiness,
generally speaking, has become a pie in the sky—life’s
ultimate goal and the most flourishing commodity of
our era (P. Bruckner). An entire publishing industry
exists on the subject, which methodically describes
and proffers happiness as an objective one can immediately
attain, with recipes to boot.
But happiness is not free. Most of the time, we speak
of “quests” for happiness. For example, the
Christian tradition teaches that happiness exists either
yesterday or tomorrow, never today. For many Catholics,
happiness, even its pursuit, remains out of bounds.
In common speech, happiness designates an emotional
state, simultaneously delectable and still. However,
few contemporary artists address the subject without
simultaneously adopting some type of critical discourse,
with an occasional a dose of derision added just for
good measure. Which is why we juxtaposed the notion of “pretence” to
happiness. One might even say that most criticism related
to happiness consists of highlighting its contradictions
and obscurities, often concluding with its impossibility…
As in its first edition, we want the Manif d'art to
be marked by a festive atmosphere. And we have decided
to broach the theme along three main vectors that we
believe indissoluble. The first is the criticism of
happiness: its hidden face, its bankruptcy, its blindness.
Then there is the sheer joy of expression, because the
word happiness can also designate “an artistic
effect that, through its intensity, contrasts with the
extreme simplicity of its means, imparting an impression
of spontaneous and almost accidental success¨1
Finally, and according to its closest definition, happiness
is simply good fortune.
The theme of happiness thus affords the possibility
of showing artists who describe nothing less than the
world. Through its implied broadness and diversity, this
is a claim we will do our best to make good on.
Souriau, Vocabulaire d’esthétique,