Abstract

Abaya, Camille Alia
Canada
C.513 | Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 10:30 - 11:00, Room C1
The Search for Meaning in Art and Education for the Greatest Good: Class Structure and Community Art Programming
To Pierre Bourdieu the distinction between class structure is not only a literal socioeconomic distinction, but an esoteric symbolic distinction evident through the aesthetics of taste (1979, p.56). This exercise of taste acts as a language which is full of key identifiers which are encoded to represent the status of the individual to others. This coding is layered in multiple strata each acting as a language on its own, intended for either an audience of the same status or depending on the interpreter’s ability to decipher the coding, for an audience of a different status. Part of this coding is the individual’s relationship to art, taste, and judgment as to what is considered in “good” taste vs. what is in “poor” taste. However this coding is not limited to value measurements representing various criteria of aesthetic proportions. It is also a code which represents a deeper more epistemic embedded level of interpretation. Such as an individual’s relationship to society and community as observed through the individual’s view of art’s relationship to education and community. It is this sociological and philosophical role of art in community practices in relation to class structure that I will be examining specifically. Using this premise as the basis of my research I have followed various examples of community art practices (looking at both currently running community art projects and literature documenting past community art projects). In following these practices I have found various examples which indicate an undercurrent of learnt understanding and performance which is exercised in community art practices. This idea of performance in my paper is a definition to reference the concept of (in this case) an artist or community arts practitioner who is representing a certain ideology in theory, yet at the same time, through action is also perpetuating a counter ideology. If this seemingly conflicting motivation vs. practice is indeed the case, community art projects thus come to represent a contested space. This paper will closely examine the philosophical dilemma in both community art programming as a tool which reinforces the class division while being motivated to help alleviate the distinctions of division. I will primarily be focusing on topics such as aesthetics and art (pertaining to distinction), values, education, community, and class structure.
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