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2022 – Moonlighting
2021 – Universal Zombie Nation
2020 – Educational Complex
2019 – With or without engagement
2018 – Passion/Work
2017 – Possible spaces ?
2016 – Grotesque
2015 – Citation — Replay


by Julie Portier

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Here, in the appropriate forum for justifying the pertinence of an editorial line, we could have abstained from this convention to unceremoniously dish you up – like a great spoonful of pudding thrown onto a ceremonial table – the purpose for our penchant for the abject in aesthetic terms, along with its auxiliaries, the inconsequential or even the unforgiveable. Hence the title of this issue would allow itself to be easily appreciated by the usual sense of the word, despite the fact that, within a discourse that is now out-dated, it once served as an expletive...

We also gave up on the theoretical wager that might’ve formulated here a new definition of the grotesque, given the extent to which it is more accurate in the negative. It does not refer to the carnivalesque, or the burlesque: it is indeed the eternally incomplete chapter of the history of art (but let’s put that aside). While the pages of this thematic focus profess a taste for that which responds indiscriminately to the criteria of the unreasonable, the confused, stupidity, ugliness, political incorrectness, or regression back to the anal phase, what we are doing here is questioning the circumstances of this tropism, which – fortunately – affects contemporary creation. Let’s suppose that this facetious spirit that generates the horrible and ridiculous within a single humorous action manifests itself periodically. Since the emergence of the delicately inhuman figures on the walls of Roman apartments in the 1st century of our era, they apparently operate in the shadows of modernity, on the flipsideof rationalism, as a background hum behind positivism, and always a step ahead of decadence. So, we could attribute to the grotesque (by the very use of the archaic term or the cryptic strategy) the virtue of revealing the present, or else predicting the future. In this sense, we think that this underwater monster has always been there, as constant as primitive impulses and natural madness; it awakens (gets to its feet) in a moment of emergency, when the retaliation against the aberrations of the world becomes a crucial question and when this attack must be achieved with equivalent weapons. A valve for violent normality, and its corollary, insecurity, the grotesque is not an escape route: dream represent a commercial message, whereas the grotesque looks horror squarely in the eye. With its feet on the ground (and hands in the shit), it seems to us that this is where the rebirth is taking place, where art regenerates itself. But we expect nothing else, simply to offer ourselves temporary salvation, a moment that stubbornly resists everything. While we are not duped by the recuperation of the grotesque by capital, by way of the media, through spectacle and its well-oiled machinery, we nonetheless believe that it will act as an antidote, even in the short term.

Through contributions from authors and artists, this issue of La Belle Revue hopes to provide a glimpse of the relics of the grotesque in 2016; where this is happening and in what forms, and what traditions its contemporary manifestations are inheriting. The auxiliary of alterity, the grotesque scatters us across different time periods, for the occasion of the Dada centenary, through the Neo-Mexicanism of the 1980s, to the dawn of the digital age; it does not stand on ceremony before genre distinctions and embraces all disciplines, from performance to fanzines or the decorative arts; it takes us on a stroll through Queer culture, invites us to dine, and to write poetry in jail.

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