Photo of Sylvette Babin

The year 2024 is truly special: we’re celebrating both the 40th anniversary of Esse and the 15th edition of the Vendu–Sold auction. In an editorial introducing the magazine’s 20th-anniversary issue, I wrote, “The commitment behind the magazine’s founding has not dimmed in twenty years. Commitment through its artistic and theoretical manifestations—the positions it takes on art, culture, and society—commitment to practice and its various disciplines and undisciplines; commitment to the vehicle itself, through the dedication of the people who have ensured the magazine’s success and character.” Those words are just as true today: our commitment hasn’t changed. In the intervening years, we’ve accomplished some wonderful things, including transforming our graphic design, making the transition to bilingualism and to unbiased writing, expanding into the international scene, and creating a major digital platform. All of this stems from our constant desire to bring contemporary art into everyday life and make our readers aware of the causes that are dear to us. Whether we are talking about art, ethics, politics, inclusion, or social or environmental justice, artists and authors have walked shoulder to shoulder with us to make Esse what it is: a tremendous research-creation project and a tool for the promotion of art.

We have also received support from arts funding agencies that have believed in us and our ability to accomplish our mission. I’d like to acknowledge all those who work in the shadows, guiding the cultural field as a whole through thick and thin. It seems that the storm is raging when it comes to funding for the visual arts. Inadequate investments in culture are leading to an impoverishment of the art milieu. This pauperization worries us, and it is why, with the cultural field as a whole, we are lobbying governmental bodies and shouting from the rooftops about the importance of art in society. For forty years, we have proved our unwavering resiliency. It was, in fact, to counter austerity that we established the Vendu–Sold auction in 2009. This fundraising event has not only helped to promote artists and the development of our organization, but also to maintain our jobs. We are immensely grateful to those who have helped us to meet this challenge.

In any case, this year’s double anniversary will not be defined by austerity. Already, we’re celebrating our award for Best Magazine: Art, Literary, and Culture, received this year from the National Magazine Awards. This distinction, which follows the 2022 SODEP award for Magazine of the Year, reminds us that our work contributes in profound ways to the cultural evolution of society. This edition of Vendu–Sold, with contributions from forty-five artists, is stamped with the seal of this recognition and marked by a new partnership with the Guido Molinari Foundation, which is hosting our exhibition. Together, we are celebrating creativity and reinforcing our commitment to making art a vital force.

Sylvette Babin, Les éditions Esse

Biographical note

Sylvette Babin holds an MFA in studio arts from Concordia University, and for twenty years she has pursued a pluridisciplinary practice as an author, editor, and performance artist. A member of the editorial committee of the magazine Esse arts + opinions for more than 25 years, she has been the magazine’s editor since 2002. A fervent proponent of justice, she is passionately committed to a variety of ethical, animal, and environmental causes.

Photo : © Alain Beauchesne