On 16 May 1871, the Vendôme Column – the monument to Napoleon-era imperialism – came toppling down. In its stead, the communards renamed the plaza ‘Place Internationale’.
Behind its collapse was French socialist painter Gustave Courbet, known for creating work that rendered the sweat of peasants over the luxury of bourgeois life. During the ‘the beautiful dream’ of the Commune, as Courbet called it, he was elected the founding president of the Federation of Artists and the Minister of Culture of the worker-led state. For this anti-imperialist act, he was jailed for six months and was indebted by fines until his death.
During the Commune’s life, the Federation drafted and debated proposals on education and aesthetics, methods and organisation, and the toppling of the old to the erection of new monuments. They knew deeply that the proletarian battle was also one over culture as well as its ideological and institutional foundations, and that artists must be reimagined as militants in the revolutionary process. For them, the symbols of the old imperialist and capitalist system must be replaced by the new – an ‘inauguration of communal wealth’ for the workers of the world.
Today we ask you – artists and militants – to join our new call for art.
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and 30 left publishers internationally are releasing a book entitled Paris Commune 150. We invite artists and designers to create and submit cover art. Submitted works will be part of a virtual exhibition, with a committee selecting one work to be used as the book cover to be published in countries around the world in several languages.
Submission date: 9 April to [email protected] – with full name, title of work, country and organisation (if any).
Size and resolution: 14,5 x 22 cm / 5.625 “x 8.75” in .jpg (300 dpi).
*Note: as it is the cover art for a publication, please leave space for the title (which will be in several languages) and not include additional text.
We have come up with some ideas to inspire your images:
The legacy or spirit of the Paris Commune / Internationalism / Workers’ power / Socialism / Human emancipation / The united people / The demands of the communards / Hope from resistance
We hope you can join us in this new call and revive the artistic and revolutionary spirit of the Paris Commune. After all, as Bertolt Brecht wrote in the song Resolution of the Communards, ‘our future must be built by our dictate’, with people’s art as new monuments for ushering that future in.