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Representations of the "Other".
The Visual Anthropology of Pierre Bourdieu


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Teil 1:
Pierre Bourdieu, Art and Visual Politics

Samstag, 07. Juli 2007
KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin

15:00 Introduction: Beatrice von Bismarck. Ulf Wuggenig (Leipzig, Lüneburg)

15:15 Isabelle Graw (Berlin)

There is no way around Bourdieu

Those who doubt the existence of art "as such" and rather insist on its relational character will always find support in Bourdieu’ sociology. Because it offers plenty of concepts (such as "symbolic capital", "space of the possible", "illusio") that demystify artistic production and allow us to throw a gaze on the relationship between Art and the Market that is without illusions. While Bourdieu attacked the hegemony of idealistic beliefs of his time, his analytical propositions have nowadays been transformed into a kind of "how to"–guideline by self–help–literature that asks aspiring artists to accumulate a maximum of symbolic capital. I will nevertheless demonstrate how useful Bourdieu’s observations are when trying to understand the impact of the current market imperialism on artistic production. But in order to grasp the specificity of the present conditions, it is helpful to use Bourdieu’s concepts as a point of contrast. To learn from Bourdieu means to reexamine his observations, which are at times rather schematic and reductivist. Only by complicating them, it is possible to understand those changes that are currently effectuated by an increased power of definition of the market.

16:15 Andrea Fraser (Los Angeles)

The Art of Social Fantasy

To the three ‘narcissistic wounds’ enumerated by Freud – those inflicted by Copernicus, Darwin, and psychoanalysis – Bourdieu suggested should be added that which sociology inflicts, "especially when it applies to ‘creators’". While Bourdieu evokes narcissism primarily as a motive for resistance to socioanalysis, this "especially" – on which he seems to agree with psychoanalysis – implies much more about the field of art and how it "collects, channels, reinforces or counteracts psychological processes".

17:15-17:45 Pause

17:45 Catherine David (Paris)

Politics of the Documentary

Departing from the photographies taken in colonial Algeria by Pierre Bourdieu, I will try to read his theories on photography as a social and cultural practice in the light of more recent developments of documentary practices. And see how his position is somehow conflictive with other interpretations of the complex relationship between art and politics today (J. Rancière).

18:45 John Miller (New York/ Berlin)

A Mutually Beneficial Encounter

My talk will center on four projects largely inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of social fields: Double Date (2001), A Mutually Beneficial Encounter (2003), Total Transparency (2004) and 493 KB From the Administered World (2004). All four concern personal advertisements – or, personals for short. Because these kinds of ads first appeared in the alternative presses of the 1960s and because many initially involved unconventional forms of sexuality, they hold out the promise of sexual liberation. To the contrary, I contend that the process of self-identification inherent in these ads enacts a form of repression. Thus, I have charted them according to the advertisers’ own criteria. This shows how the ads are arrayed in various social fields and the hierarchy that governs them.