The Art World and Its Discontents

Banu Karaca

11 August 2021 18:00

Online event

The practice of artmaking, especially in the visual arts, is often an individual(ized) process. And yet the production, presentation and circulation of art, the ways in which it meets its audiences relies on collaboration and a wide network of actors that together constitute the art world. While categories such as “art workers” have tried to capture the labor that (some) of these actors often invisibly contribute to making the production, presentation, and circulation of art possible, the power differentials and dependency structures that characterize the art world often remain undiscussed.

This talk aims to delve into the dynamics of the art world, by looking at it not only as an interplay of institutional spaces, practices, and authoritative theories (as philosopher Arthur Danto suggested) but as an assemblage of diverging and often conflicting interests and understandings of art that are in constant need of mediation. Among the topics that will be discussed are the motifs of friends/foes through which relationships across the art world are often described, the role of gossip, and navigating the art world from within and without its institutions, both individually and collectively. This also means probing the extent to which the impasses and possibilities that the art world offers in (re)claiming the emancipatory potential of art are inherent in the modern conception of art itself.

Banu Karaca works at the intersection of political anthropology and critical theory, art, aesthetics, cultural policy, museums, and feminist memory studies. Her publications interrogate arts censorship, gender and visual literacy, and questions of restitution. She is the author of The National Frame: Art and State Violence in Turkey and Germany (2021) and co-editor of Women Mobilizing Memory (2019). Banu is the co-founder of Siyah Bant, a research platform that documents censorship in the arts in Turkey. Currently an EUME Fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Banu continues her research on how looted and dispossessed art has shaped the legal and scholarly knowledge production on art in Turkey and the wider European context.