The Aesthetics of Art Audiences

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Nina ZAHNER, Kunstakademie Duesseldorf / State Academy of Fine Arts Duesseldorf, Germany
The paper argues that there is an orthodoxy of approach to the study of audiences of classical concerts, operas and fine art exhibitions in sociology. The paper shows briefly how different studies on fine art and classical music audiences integrate normative ideas in their study design by drawing explicity or implicitly on prominent social theories such as Max Weber, Pierre Bourdieu and Georg Simmel. It also shows briefly how studies drawing on an ethnographic tradition (Howard S. Becker, Merleau Ponty, Bruno Latour) often get lost in detail or start to integrate very naively concepts of art and art audiences in order to come to an interesting interpretation of their material. It is argued that these modes of studying fine art and classical music audiences does actually steady established power relations within society and the arts. The paper will suggest a different methodological approach to art audiences: An approach that focuses the actual situation of art reception and its modalities in an ethnographic perspective and contextualizes this situation historically, socially and aesthetically. In order to do so it is suggested to integrate system theory in the tradition of Niklas Luhmann - used as as research method and not as a theory - with Howard S. Beckers approach. What is actually suggested here is an elaborated version of field theory that avoids its normative implications and that differs siginificantly from the sociology of conventions by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot as it integrates the aesthetic discourse differently in its methodological architecture.