The proliferation of biennales, art fairs and museums is the hallmark of the global art world today. This phenomenon has surprisingly attracted little attention among anthropologists. This panel invites papers exploring institutions, actors and art works towards an anthropology of the art world.
The proliferation of biennales, art fairs and museums - and the circulation of art works, artists and other professionals - is the hallmark of the global art world today. Understood as cultural forms (Ciotti 2014), these institutions have become increasingly hegemonic (biennales and triennales being powerful examples, see Dimitrakaki 2012) through the inclusion and exclusion mechanisms they command, the re-repurposing of space they engender, and for being notable sites of value production. Despite their ubiquitous presence, global art world institutions have surprisingly attracted little attention among anthropologists. At the same time, the renewed interest in the anthropology of art over recent years has mainly focused on (re)defining the relation between art and anthropology and exploring their cross-fertilizations (Schneider and Wright 2006), while scholars have pointed to the need to reinstate their 'very different ways of engaging the world' (Grimshaw and Tavetz 2015: 432). This panel invites papers on art world institutions from multiple geographical contexts which address the following questions among others: what are the novel material worlds that these institutions generate? What are the different effects of exhibiting art works (for example commodification processes) - at the core of many art world institutions? Does the study of the art world re-signify ethnographic practices and how? How does the internet shed light on the art world? Ultimately, how does research on art world institutions speak to the legacy of the anthropology of art? It is envisaged that selected papers from the panel will be submitted for publication in a journal special issue.