Art and power
Art and power • Sujet zéro 2020
What is art for?
compréhension de l'oral • compréhension de l'écrit • expression écrite
Intérêt du sujet • Les musées sont souvent considérés comme des annexes culturelles périphériques à la ville. Et si on les plaçait au centre, en les faisant participer activement à la vie de la cité ?
Vous disposez d'abord de 5 minutes pour prendre connaissance de l'intégralité du sujet. Puis vous écouterez 3 fois le document 1. À l'issue de la 3e écoute, vous organiserez votre temps comme vous le souhaitez pour traiter la compréhension de l'oral, la compréhension de l'écrit et un sujet d'expression écrite.
Document 1What is art for?
© Axisweb / DR
voir la vidéo (jusqu'à 1'43)
Source: Axisweb.org, 26 July 2015
Document 2The Manchester galleries using art to try to change the world
What use is art? For the boss of Manchester's two main civic galleries, art isn't just for looking at, or for buying and selling – it can improve our lives in some unexpected ways.
“I want people to say, ‘Oh yeah, art's actually quite useful, art's actually really important.'”
Alistair Hudson has given Manchester Art Gallery and sister venue1 the Whitworth a new mission – to be useful.
Hudson wants to harness the power of art for the good of the city. The Whitworth was named the Museum of the Year in 2015 and Hudson has given it a new mission statement – to “use art for social change”.
It says: “Art should address what matters in people's lives, respond to current urgencies and propose solutions to the issues around us.”
The gallery will “value art for what it can do, not how much it is worth”, it adds.
Hudson explains: “The art market serves a very small number of people in society. Museums in the modern, contemporary era – their programmes have been really driven by the contemporary art market, not necessarily by public interest.”
Artistic ideas, creative thinking and the transformative power of making stuff can play a big part in solving problems in areas like education, health, politics, technology, economics and the environment, he believes.
Hudson took over the Manchester galleries in 2017 and has launched their new era with an exhibition at the Whitworth titled Joy For Ever: How To Use Art To Change The World And Its Price In The Market.
The title and exhibition are both influenced by 19th-century thinker John Ruskin, whose ideas about creative freedom, craftsmanship and architecture went on to influence politics, education and the conservation movement.
Hudson wants to update those ideas for the 21st century. “What that means is you start to get involved in shaping and contributing to the infrastructure of society and how it works, not just creating a leisure resource or a tourist attraction.”
Future plans include an exhibition called Economics: The Blockbuster, which will attempt to demystify the financial world and propose alternative economic models.
“And we're talking about creating a Whitworth Business School, where we will teach economics through the medium of art,” he says.
Hudson moved to Manchester from the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (Mima), where he also put his ideas into practice.
They included a regular free lunch in the gallery for people from across the city. It wasn't an artwork as such, but it harnessed the power of a gallery, he explains.
“We redirected our exhibitions budget to pay for cooking for people every week. Around that table you would have gallery goers, homeless people, refugees, the police, the mayor, dementia groups… The most amazing range of people all gathered around this meal.”
They would meet new people and have the chance to raise issues with people in authority.
“It became this moment in the week where you could start to galvanise opinion and energy that could then be directed in very positive ways,” Hudson says.
“But it also became the place where a lot of these groups who didn't have a voice could have recourse to power. They could use the gravitas2 of the public institution in order to talk up to power – whether that's the mayor or the council. That became a very interesting way of working. It started to affect a lot of decisions.”
Ian Youngs, www.bbc.com, 9 April 2019 (adapted)
1. a sister venue: another gallery of the same museum.
2. gravitas: prestige.
Compréhension de l'oral 10 points
Vous ferez le compte rendu en français du document vidéo (document 1).
Compréhension de l'écrit 10 points
Answer the following questions in English.
▶ 1. Document 2. Using your own words, give an account of the text, focusing particularly on:
– Alistair Hudson's occupation,
– his opinion on art and on the role of museums,
– the initiatives and actions he has developed and his future plans.
▶ 2. Documents 1 et 2. Drawing information from both the text (document 2) and the video (document 1), explain the meaning of this statement: “The gallery will ‘value art for what it can do, not how much it is worth'” (l. 15).
Expression écrite 10 points
Vous traiterez, en anglais, un seul des deux sujets suivants, au choix. Répondez en 120 mots au moins.
On a blog, you read three different reactions by visitors to the Manchester galleries. Which one corresponds best to your own experience of museums? Why?
You want to promote art in your town. Here are three possible events. Choose one and write an email to the mayor to explain what you want to do in your town and why.
Les clés du sujet
Compréhension de l'oral
Identifier les caractéristiques clés du document (1re écoute)
Affiner sa compréhension (2e et 3e écoutes)
Compréhension de l'écrit
Comprendre le document
Organiser ses réponses
▶ 1. En partant de la définition de l'utilité de l'art et du rôle des musées, développez les actions déjà entreprises (par le Mima avec l'organisation d'un déjeuner gratuit jusqu'à Manchester et l'exposition sur la joie) ainsi que celles à venir (sur l'économie).
▶ 2. Les deux documents ont le même objectif : montrer que l'art n'est pas un placement mais qu'il dispose d'une mission pour améliorer et influencer le monde. Listez les éléments sur lesquels cette influence peut s'exercer.
Sujet A • Key ideas and a few tools
Sujet B • Key ideas and a few tools
Compréhension de l'oral
Alistair Hudson (director of Mima): One of the things, we said is, in a way, that everything should become a project. We should, in a way, to, kind of… in order to reprogramme the museum, we need to make the museum more useful to people. So rather than just looking at, say, the galleries and the collections being the main focus of activity, the things like the café, the education space, the community program, and everything else supporting that – what if we flipped it round? And said the main job of the museum, the main job of the institution, is the café, the shop, the education programme, the community programme, the work we do with different constituencies… All these different aspects which normally, the stuff that floats around the core activity – if we flip this around and say that programme, in a way the human programme, is the main activity, and the exhibitions and the collections support that. So you flip the way of working around. Then, also, you think about that in terms of the museum: rather than the state, the superstructure supporting the museum, what if the museum supports the superstructure? What if we become – make the museum involved in everything that's going on in the town? If we get the museum to take part in what's already happening? So could we get involved in housing? Could we get involved in health care? Could we get involved in schools, education? Could we get involved in any aspect of life? What is it the institution, what is it that art can do in the world, that would make a difference?
Proposition de compte rendu en français
Pour ce sujet, les 5 minutes préparatoires pour découvrir le dossier peuvent vous permettre d'identifier le locuteur comme le sujet principal du document 2.
Dans cette vidéo, Alistair Hudson – directeur du Mima – explique qu'à son arrivée à la tête du musée, son équipe et lui ont cherché à redéfinir la mission du musée, ce qui a consisté à mettre non plus les expositions et les galeries au cœur du dispositif comme traditionnellement, mais, paradoxalement, ce qui est généralement considéré comme « annexe » : café, espace éducation, programme de travail avec la communauté.
Ils se sont également penchés sur l'inversion des rôles entre le musée et la ville : l'idée était que le musée soutienne la ville et ses activités, et non l'inverse.
des points en +
Le Mima est le Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, situé dans le North Yorkshire (voir document 2).
Il s'est demandé comment le musée pourrait jouer un rôle dans des domaines qui généralement ne sont pas en lien avec lui, tels que le logement, le système de santé ou l'éducation, afin que l'art puisse changer le monde qui l'entoure, dans une certaine mesure.
Compréhension de l'écrit
▶ 1. Alistair Hudson, who is a museum director, explains that to him, art should not just be a financial investment, but should be useful to society, by offering solutions to the problems we encounter. He has already implemented this strategy in the Mima, by organising a free lunch event, thereby contributing to mixing people from different walks of life. He intends to continue in Manchester, where he has already launched an exhibit about joy that focuses on the practicalities of art and intends to set up one about economics. His objective seems to be to make people realise how useful art can be contrary to popular opinion.
▶ 2. Most people believe that a work of art is something you pay for or you admire in a gallery and has a value only in itself. On the contrary, Alistair Hudson considers that the importance of art lies in its potential effect on the world and society – and he intends to do so by flipping round our conception of the place of the museum, to be at the service of the community.
des points en +
John Ruskin (1819-1900), écrivain, peintre et critique d'art, pensait qu'un artiste devait être « fidèle à la nature » et a influencé le mouvement préraphaélite.
Sujet A (3rd opinion)
It is all very well going to a museum, but most of the time, it is a very intellectual process which often leaves you frustrated. You queue for hours before reaching a painting that you don't even have enough time to look at properly because a crowd is pressing around you. I find this very unsatisfactory, and even stressful.
Yet, I have had memorable experiences in workshops organised around the theme of an exhibition. They offer the advantage of introducing us to something concrete, that helps us understand better what an artist went through during the creative process. Moreover, it enables us to share this moment with our friends, and we have something to bring home other than a memory or a photo.
I remember taking part in such a sculpture workshop, working with specific tools such as a mallet and a chisel. It was awesome!
a mallet : un maillet
a chisel : un ciseau (pour la pierre)
Sujet B (2nd event)
I am writing to you today in order to make a suggestion that could make our town more lively and unite the community around a common project.
The idea would be to organise a singing event for Christmas, which would bring together children and elderly people. I thought we could for instance ask the primary school in Fleet Street and the retirement home in the same street, if they'd accept to work together.
to bring together : rassembler
a retirement home : une maison de retraite
a choirmaster : un chef de chœur
This would certainly benefit both groups, as the elderly often tend to enjoy having young people around and act as grandparents, and the children would discover something new, and become more open-minded. I already have a potential choirmaster who has volunteered to join us – the one in charge of the church choir. Please let me know if you are interested.