Next week I’m presenting a paper at EGOS on how art travel and are made into political objects.
Creating an artwork is the work of crafting a symbolic representation of society; and, according to Adorno (1991) true art challenges society through its symbolic representation. All arts, it can be argued, are communicating a symbolic meaning of whatever the artist decides. In this sense, aspects of society, and what it means to be human, are translated and inscribed into the object in question – painting, song, art installation, film, video game – leaving the subject itself to interpret these meanings from the art. Artists can thus be understood as symbolic creator (Hesmondhalgh, 2012), leaving imprints in objects – commenting on the state of our society.
Most art travels, between spaces and between different persons – spectators. This mean that the symbolic meaning inscribed in arts may as well travel. Although the intentions of the artist are disconnected as a piece of art leave the hands of its symbol creator. In a Saussurean move this mean that what is signified are for the spectators to construct, given the clues of a physical present signifier and discourses attached to this. Although a spectator does not enter the relationship carte blanche, as Foucault (1982) reminds us: a spectator is always bound by his past, and present passions. Art is thus a boundary object made part of different fields (Bourdieu, 1993), in order to give power to actors within here: either as connoisseurs’ of the arts, or, as in the case here, as leverage in a the field of international politics.
Following a constructivist approach, as developed in Science and Technology Studies, the arts is part of shaping society (e.g. Hennion, 1989). It is both made a part, and it takes a part, in producing relations that a stabilized over time. It is my belief that arts are made into actants of different networks (Latour, 1999; 2005), for different purposes. Art does thus not speak for itself, it is spoken for, and once spoken for it is also made into an actor. It has been said that the acronym ANT (actor-network theory) could be used to explain what it means to study actors using a sociology of translation approach: like ants, researchers walk with small steps, and carefully follow each step forming the chain of translation. In this case it would imply following actions that build the cultural market, without any preconception of who the actors are, and where it is leading. For this short paper, let us be ants.
The aim of this short paper is to explore how two art objects are made to travel between different spaces, discursive spaces, as they are hijacked and made into coconspirator’s of different agendas. As these two narratives unfold the two art pieces will also be made into actants of different fields, be made into actors of politics and religion. The first narrative is that of the installation Snow White and the Madness of Truth,by Dror Feiler and Gunilla Sköld-Feiler, where the hopelessness of violence travels into politics and are made into an anti-Semitism symbol. The second narrative is that of the painting Scène d’amour, by Louzla Darabis, where sexual pleasures are driven into religion and are made anti-Islamism. Through these two narratives I hope to present the working of boundary construction and travelling of arts – and at times, trespassing.