EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


Relational patrons: anthropological perspectives on transnational and intimate art collaborations

Location M-328
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00


Alex Flynn (Durham University) email
Jonas Tinius (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel revitalises an engagement with patronage through the framework of relational aesthetics. It explores contexts in which contemporary art patronage unveils, reproduces or conceals complex transnational relational networks and intimate collaborations between ethical subjects and polities.

Long Abstract

Since 1945 the global art market has grown from 500,000 collectors to 450 million 'art consumers'. Web 2.0 platforms have been central to an exponential growth of anonymous commodity-centric transactions. And yet, intimate collaboration and privileged relations remain intrinsic to art market phenomena. In 2013, Munich police confiscated 1,406 artworks, many of which had been thought destroyed or lost. The 'Gurlitt case' throws light on complex scenarios; how did Gurlitt and the intervention of a fascist state subvert or recreate the relations inherent to the art works that he hoarded?

The anthropology of art, through Bishop, Bourdieu, and Becker, has a long tradition in addressing the moral economic complexities of art markets. As Arthur Danto put it provocatively, 'to see something as art requires... an artworld'. Following Boltanski and Chiapello, recent scholarship has investigated how new management logics have appropriated a vision of the artist as a self-cultivating entrepreneur. These perspectives provide compelling understandings of how we imagine the art world today, and continue to structure the way we theorise collaboration between artists, art consumers, galleries, and the media.

This panel however investigates how collaboration, intimacy and technology make visible, reproduce or even sever relations within the social life of art networks today. Therefore this panel explores how we can conceptualise art works and patronage at the intersection of the intimate and the transnational, the technologically commoditised and the personal, collaboration and disengagement.

Discussant: tba

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


The unethical aesthetic? Reflections on patronage, collaboration, and the Gurlitt case

Author: Jonas Tinius (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the intersection of moral, legal, and aesthetic dilemmas in the Gurlitt case. It proposes 'ethico-aesthetic patronage' as a helpful analytical and ethnographic entry point for an analysis of art works as relational prism.

Long Abstract

'Gurlitt' has already become a scenario word for one of the most notorious cases of art history after World War II. It concerns, initially, the inherited collection of 1,406 art works stored for over thirty years in an apartment in the Munich district of Schwabing. The 'Gurlitt case' is a prism for a nexus of hitherto not unrelated but rarely ever so intertwined (art) historical, moral, political, and economic conundrums. Throughout this paper, I wish to attend to the interlocking of these aspects, casting an anthropological glance at the German cultural historical background to and implications of this case. Key to my discussion is the relation between aesthetic experience and ethical judgement.

'All in One Rhythm': Brazil's Museu de Arte do Rio

Author: Alex Flynn (Durham University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper questions the notion of 'All in One Rhythm', the official slogan of World Cup 2014. It argues such discourse masks the competing interests of state and corporate patrons as to how ideas of Brazilian identity are to be reflected and produced through cultural politics.

Long Abstract

Nicolas Bourriaud's concept of 'relational aesthetics' (2002) argues that art has 'as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space' (2002: 14). Art works in this sense produce microtopias, small, temporary communities where we can 'invent democratic relations with our neighbors' (ibid: 45). Operating from this intellectual framework, how can we understand institutional spaces to negotiate the projection of a Brazilian 'national identity' and how 'democratic' are the microtopias created within these spaces? In the lead-up to mega-events, competing state and private interests are delineating new psycho-social and geographical spaces through which ideas of Brazilian identity are reflected and produced (Pardue 2011). The Ministry of Culture's 2013 budget of £1.5 billion represents a 65% increase on 2012 and investment is driving diverse projects, including the recently opened Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR). Financed partly by the state, and partly by Roberto Marinho, the 'Brazilian Citizen Kane' (Soares 1999), MAR foregrounds how forms of sociality generated by relational aesthetics can be freighted with bureaucratised understandings of aesthetic, political and financial value. This paper proposes an analysis of MAR's beginnings and its relations therein to corporate patrons. The paper seeks to deepen understandings of cultural politics and collective identities in institutionalised spaces.

Peripheral filmmakers and transnational collaborations: Chilean 'festival' films between art and commerce

Author: Maria Paz Peirano (Leiden University )  email

Short Abstract

Chilean filmmakers construct a complex set of transnational, intimate, collaborations at the international film festival circuit. They constantly negotiate their creative practices, evidencing the overlapping narratives on art, commerce and cultural identity entwined in recent peripheral filmmaking.

Long Abstract

The paper upholds the various global interactions in which Chilean film is involved. It focuses on the complex transnational relational networks established at international film festivals and markets, which have enabled recent Chilean film production and circulation.

This work is based on a multi-sited, 'travelling' ethnographic fieldwork within the Chilean cinematographic network, a group of filmmakers and producers who exchange Chilean films at the festival circuit. It explores how these professionals negotiate their creative practices in places like Cannes, Amsterdam or Berlin, where they develop diverse sets of transnational relations and collaborations. Film professionals' performances at those sites lead to the construction of intimate, reliable relationships, which encourage both economic exchanges and an increasing artistic prestige.

The paper tackles the implications of those social interactions, and the ways in which they are entwined with an overlapping set of cultural meanings. Festivals and markets provide a fundamental space for contemporary filmmaking deemed to be 'alternative', as opposed to Hollywood dominant productions. Like other 'world' national cinemas, Chilean film depends to a certain extent on its international circulation, associated with the value-addition and commodification processes of both films and filmmakers in this context. Peripheral filmmakers need to negotiate diverse social identities and narratives, which are associated with different -and often contradictory- aesthetic, political and economic requirements. Thus, I argue that peripheral, local, filmmaking practices are deeply intersected by these transnational exchanges, and that the "festival films" getting recognition in the circuit, tend to convey those overlapping global expectations.

Collaborative co-creation in performing art

Author: Julianna Faludi (Corvinus University Budapest)  email

Short Abstract

The world is interconnected through art. Collaboration patterns in artistic production broaden the scope of constant search and experimenting as survival strategy. Co-creation involves interdisciplinary work, audience participation and reformulation of the field toward horizontal arrangements.

Long Abstract

Cultural production in performing art is facing structural challenges reshaping the field where independent companies show kaleidoscopic (re)arrangements.

Various forms of collaboration patterns give rise to new projects, and blur the boundaries between actors of the field: companies, disciplines, consumers, producers. To broaden the scope of approaches, the paper addresses how to theorize collaboration of actors in the field: artists, consumers, culturepreneurs. The 'classic' frames of anthropology, sociology of art are contrasted with cultural economics and boosted with approaches of innovation literature to create a frame for understanding the fluidity of the different roles played by the actors of the artistic field and patterns of collaboration which underpin constant experimenting and search for new ways both in art creation and as means of survival.

The paper then sheds light on the nature and structure of collaborations in artistic production of independent performing art companies (theatre and contemporary dance) where modularity is at hand for drawing on the relation of production, organizational boundaries and the different roles played by the actors involved.

Empirical findings are supported by fieldwork based on participant observation, semi-structured interviews; and narrative analysis. Conclusions are expected to contribute to the understanding of patterns of collaborative production and open innovation in the performing art drawing on the peculiarities of artistic production in contrast/ complementing with findings grabbed from technology-lead industries (where it has been extensively investigated). Furthermore the analysis would broaden the scope of frames of understanding artistic production in its collaborative formations.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.