9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Arts and Democratization Building II, C6.08

Transforming art history elitism: a dialogical experience from the other women in Barcelona

One of new tendencies around artistic practices is democratization in terms of learning and understanding arts. In the context of art history as a discipline, this means that "the making of" interpretation and explanation of visual arts ought to be oriented towards bigger audiences, especially towards ones that have been traditionally excluded from the mainstream of art history. According to Thomas Crow (2007), one of the most recognized historians of art, this process is not always achieved. It is because a democratizing way of understanding and practicing art history is related to the necessity of expanding audiences. While from the beginning it has been widespraed that art history is the sum of "sublime moments" only studied by selected and reduced audiences. This means opening new spaces of reflection, discussion, dialogue and participation of voices traditionally silenced by the dominant culture.
Reorienting an elitist discipline, as the art history, towards the idea of art for all also means empowering people who have been marginalized and excluded from the most elitist spaces of art. This paper presents from a sociological perspective, the case of a women's group who have started the "dialogical artistic gathering" in a school for adults in Barcelona. As pioneers in Spain and probably in Europe, this is a successful experience of dialogical learning (Flecha et al. 2008) which combines theoretical and practical principles of the critical pedagogy (Freire, 2006; Giroux, 1997; Kincheloe, 2008; Macedo, 2006; Steinberg, 2001) and it is the result of the dialogical literary and musical gatherings (CONFAPEA, 2008).
From this experience it is stated that women audiences "less qualified" in terms of specialization and more hybrid but always interested, are able to build empowering process which shed light on the old ways of making and teaching art history, and also contributing to increase instrumental and academic learning. Based on the dialogical artistic gatherings, it is possible to talk about the democratization of artistic practices because they provide a local and successful example, extending also to other European contexts where social cohesion and thirst for living, feeling and understanding art are needed, extending inexpert audiences.