Accepted paper:

Crossing the borders: Issues and input of a sociology of art perspective for a better understanding of artworks' transcultural circulation


Leïla Baracchini

Paper short abstract:

One of the main issues regarding an anthropology of contemporary art productions concerns the ability to take into account the intercultural viewpoints that are crossing it. Using the example of contemporary San art, this paper offers to study what heuristic contributions can bring the use of sociology of art.

Paper long abstract:

Since the last thirty years, the sociology of art, mainly in France, has highlighted the social context and the collective dimension of the artistic phenomenon. Using the concept of art worlds, sociologists, like H. Becker, R. Moulin or N. Heinich, have definitely drawn the attention to the multiple mediators involved in the art production. By asking "How art is made?", their analyses examine the processes and actors involved in the making of an high-art and also the social dimensions that organize the artistic work, like principles of justification or criteria for judgement. At the intersection of different values systems, the mediators (art advisors, merchants, gallerists, printers and media) have a critical role as they are located in-between the artworks, the artists, the markets, the donors, and the public. As they condense the moment of circulation between two worlds, they also are at the middle of dialogical tensions between various cultural expectative. Thus, in which way the attention drawn to the work of the mediators helps to better understand the cultural negotiations and adjustments operating during the artwork's transition from the local communities to an international public? Using the example of a contemporary San art project located in Botswana, this paper aims to show how an analyse focused on the collective dimension at work in art making, viewing and purchasing is relevant to shed light on issues linked to the transcultural processes.

panel P19
Anthropology in the contemporary artworld