Accepted Paper:

Art and gift  


Roger Sansi (Universitat de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

In the last decades, participation, collaboration, exchange relations have become a key form of practice and a polemical object of debate in contemporary art,. This paper proposes to address participative art practices from the perspective of anthropological discussions of the "gift.”

Paper long abstract:

In the last decades practices of participation and collaboration, have become key issues in contemporary art, both in terms of theory and practice. The debate between the defendants and the critics of participative art is increasingly polemical. On the one hand the critics defend the autonomy of art as a detached form of representation; on the other hand its defendants propose heteronomy: art as a social and political practice immersed in everyday life (see the work of Bourriaud, Bishop, Kester, Thompson, Rancière amongst others). The paper move beyond the dichotomy between autonomy and heteronomy from an anthropological perspective. Anthropology can provide a more general understanding of what constitutes "participation", "collaboration" and "exchange" beyond the field of art. Many of the discussions in art theory move around the ambiguity of participative and collaborative practices, which often take the form of gift exchanges. In this sense, anthropological discussions of the concept and practice of "gift" can open a wider understanding of these practices. This discussion of the "gift" should also include the work of critical thinkers that worked between the two fields, much before the actual outburst of participative art, from Bataille to the situationists. In general terms, this paper proposes an Anthropology that does not only engage with contemporary art through ethnographic practices, but also engages with current theoretical and political debates in art.

Panel P047
Anthropology of art: today and tomorrow