When is Artification?
EHESS, MCC Laboratoire d'anthropologie et d'histoire de l'institution de la culture - LAHIC Paris, France
EHESS, CNRS Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage - CRAL Paris, France
What do Renaissance painting, circus, jazz and photography have in common ? This paper addresses that question by introducing our forthcoming edited book on artification.
In homage to Nelson Goodman ("When Is Art"?, 1977) it is our ambition to build a grounded theory of artification "i.e., the transformation of non-art into art" and describe the processes by which objects, practices and ideas are transformed into art, and people into artists, both in their material form and in the way they are identified by society at large. We shall present (1) a theory of artification and (2) the monographical data on which it is founded.
What are the pertinent sectors, operators, and actors of artification -
Consider sectors of social life. Crafts, industry, entertainment, sports and religion, for example, are more or less prone to artification at different points in history. Today religious artefacts are extremely prone to their transfiguration into art, while this is rarely the case in sports or industry.
We also review the indicators or, in a more active sense, the operators of artification, that both conduct change and let people know that transformation is underway. Operators are discursive, aesthetical, legal, technical, institutional, and organisational : hip-hop gets called urban dance ; jazz is written onto musical scores, improvisors are called composers and paid rights ; producers import forms from established art.
Many social actors are concerned. Producers may seek to assert themselves as artists or be unwittingly « discovered » by mediators. Dealers, collectors, curators, and critics define and confirm artists ; agencies allott funds. Artification is accomplished when the public at large shows appreciation.
From these findings we establish typologies of artification. The process can be durable over the long term : the transformation of Renaissance painters is a case in point. In other instances artification can concern only part of a productive sector (cinema, photography), or meet resistance from certain social groups for technical or philosophical reasons.
The main consequence of artification is to enlarge the art world. It also legitimizes and authentifies practice and favours individualization.
Finally, the study of artification opens new avenues for theoretical reflexion.