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Happiness and pretence versión española


¨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.

1Étienne Souriau, Vocabulaire d’esthétique, Paris, PUF.