9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Arts and Social Boundaries Building II, C6.08

Art for everybody or for the privileged few - self-definition and self-representation of the contemporary art scene

Analyzing the rejection or incomprehension of contemporary art in the wider society, one will sooner or later face the gap that runs between the public's definition of and expectations towards contemporary art, and that of the most significant agents of the contemporary art scene, that is curators, art critics/art theorists, directors of institutions, gallerists, not mentioning contemporary artists. To understand the nature and the real depth of this gap one has to investigate these different expectations and definitions. Some earlier researches have attempted to explore the attitudes and expectations of the public regarding art in general, but very few investigations aimed at revealing how the contemporary art scene itself seeks to build up its self-representation and legitimacy, and how it defines the aim and role of its own activity.
In my paper I am introducing the results of an interview-series I have conducted among representatives of the Hungarian contemporary art field - on contemporary art here I mean the progressive, cutting edge art practices that are assigned like this by the professionals. I made numerous in-depth, semi-structured interviews with art professionals working in bigger and smaller art institutions, asking them about the significance of contemporary art in our societies, the role and position art aims to gain, about their attitudes regarding their own roles as art professionals, and regarding the audiences.
From these interviews a complex image is emerging, reflecting the attempts of the contemporary art scene towards institutionalization and legitimization.