Tag Archives: sociology

Art worlds – Howard S. Becker

imageThis is a manual, with the purpose to teach to college students how an art world works. You won’t find here the definition of art or art work (that was, at the end, the reason why I am reading books about this subject), nor you will find deep explanations of specific contemporary art experiences or modern painting; even less you will read about the reasons of high or low evaluations of some art works. But this book, on a sociological point of view, will let you see better how an art world works.

We usually think that an art work is born through the mind of an artist, a special and talented person, who feels the need to put his emotions and fears and intuitions into his paint, photo, sculpture; but the reality is far more than this.

Art works could not exhist without a net of people who influence and help the artist, who evaluate the work, who define if it is art, who put them into museum, who keep them safe from the perils of the time, of the politics, of the wars, of the forgetfulness; art works could not live without people who sell it, and, above all, without a public who enjoy it (and most folk and naive art realities have a lot of problem on this point of view).

This is the part that enlightned me the most: the part where Becker explains how an art work can die.

A painting, a theatre show or a book can die because of censorship or, even worst, because of material destructions and prohibitions, of course; despite this, anyway, this is not a true death, because it is still possible that someone remembers some prohibited poems or, for example, keeps a picture of the painting.

The true death of a work art is forgetfulness.

After all, I think that an artists feels the need to do what he does for one big reason (among other minor ones): because he/she wants to leave something that survives after him. Because he/she feels that he/she won’t live forever and feel unbearable that all his/her thinking, emotions, fears and intuitions will die with him. This doesn’t mean that his/her artwork will always transmit his/her real intentions and message, because interpretation will change with time, but there will still been something that will witness his/her life on this earth. This is why forgetfulness kills artworks: because it kills the very first reason of its Birth.

We need to leave a sign because we know that we are mortal. Is this why animals do not create art? Well, after this reading, I have a big doubt: I fear that if there would be someone who decides that a painting made by a monkey is art, that blot could be considered art… but only if that “someone” is known as an expert, only if there is someone else who is ready to take that blot into his collection, and if there is a net of people who is ready to handle that work like an art work.

Well, I am exhagerating, of course.

Or not?

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Happy Growth – Francesco Morace

imageThe idea that growth is dangerous, that it will ruin our environment, that it will transform us in stubborn and brainless consumers, that it will get an implosion point, is nowadays more than a fashion: it seems to be a duty.

Francesco Morace, sociologist, writer and journalists who has studied market trends since several years, tells us that growth is not a seven-heads-monster. Growth is not only physiological, but necessary. We only need to change paradigm and understand that we cannot go on reasoning in terms of luxury, richness and quantity increase.

The new paradigm cannot rely on usual success concept. Success is not happiness, richness doesn’t mean happiness. Status symbols are changing: more and more experiences are based on the idea of excellence, not luxury.
More than this: some new happy behaviours are growing, trust & sharing, coworking, farmer markets… they are all symptoms of a new way to buy, based on trust and gift logic.
Happiness is less consumistic and more emotional, so Morace.

Do I agree with him? Well, of course, when eh says that paradigms changes are very slow! I just do the devil’s advocate…

Let’s see consumption: it can be a freedom act, says Morace. Consumer can become a consum-author, he says.
Yes, in my opinion too, a consumistic society is better than a sharia-based society, but I still know too many ladies who, when they feel blue, need to go out for shopping. Well, this is not properly my idea of freedom. And, in my opinion, there still are too many (my Good, really too many) fashion shops in the department stores. Too many horrible fashion shops. While libraries are closing.

Let’s look at Facebook and other social networks. Yes, true, they are very useful when they help programming social meetings or some sociological movements. But give a look to standard Facebook user: give a look to the intelligence level of his sharings and comments. He put more attention on abandomned kitten and dogs instead of war refugees or war corpses. Social networks – at the moment – do not push reasoning, they just push emotions. With their pro and cons.

Let’s look at the health systems: in my opinion we are putting too much attention to the technological side of the service (how to reserve a visit through Internet, for instance, or how to increase pills market), while neither social networks nor the official health system is focusing on the strong side of the matter: prevention (through healthy diets and excercise, mainly, but here I am a little partial, with my vegan view…). I just hope that the USA will play the captain role, here, considering the current efforts of Obama’s administration.

Last comment: I love the cover photo of this book. Let’s consume, but let’s do it in an intelligent way, it seems to say. Do not waste the peel of the orange, you could recycle it.
For instance, in a Christmas Tree decoration:-)

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