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Session Overview
RN02_01c_P: Artistic Production, Creativity, Skills and Practice
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Tasos Zembylas, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
Location: PA.1.3
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 1.

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Creating in the studio. Artists’ studios and the flow of creativity

Adina Manta

University of Bucharest, Romania

As a contribution to a deeper understanding of the art worlds, this paper aims to give a comprehensive account of the flows between the materiality of contemporary visual artists` studios and creativity in the process of art production. Following on Latour, Deleuze and Guattari theoretical frameworks, I consider the relationship between visual artists and their studios in order to give a new spin to the much neglected concept of creativity in the sociology of art. As contemporary visual artists` work practices involve sites and modes of production, the materiality of the space becomes an actor in the creation process. Due to this, I conceptualize creativity as a social product, an assemblage in which various human and non-human actors are involved. Drawing on interviews with artists and observations of artistic spaces, I examine how in these spaces the artist initiates creatively the experiencing of the space not only as an object, but also as a thing that is part of the artistic creation process. The space, through its materiality, becomes part of the artistic creation and a link in the creativity process. Not only a work place or physical container for creation and contemplation, the studio reveals the complex relationship between materials and forces in the process of art making.

The Craft of Performing Artists: Skill, Identity and the Learning Curve

Chiara Bassetti1, Dafne Muntanyola-Saura2

1University of Trento, Italy; 2Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

What are the skills a professional performing artist needs? How are these developed? How do the performers subjectively describe and interpret their learning process and creative practices? Artists are immersed in specific intersubjective aesthetics, conceptions of artistic work, and common sense alike. The contemporary art market is impregnated by an individualism that revolves around the glorification of feeling and emotion. Singularity (Simmel, 1908, Heinich, 2014) and distinction (Bourdieu, 1979) are crucial, and the body –with what is perceived as its intrinsic individuality– is taken as a tool for thinking as well as the place for creativity. Still, Feyerabend (1987) regards the myth of creativity as a recent historical construction. Williams (1985) shows how in the wake of 19th century division of labor the adjective “expert” evolved into the noun “expertise”. The Romantic artist becomes an expert when capable of producing and communicating a certain form of cognition and action that does not belong to everyday life. This professional way of seeing (Goodwin, 1994), moving (Dreyfus, 1998) and doing (Sennett, 2012) lies at the root of expert creative practices. How do performers make sense of their creative process and its cultivation? In our contribution, we provide a comparative discourse analysis of two collectives of performing artists –namely musicians and dancers– based on around 100 semi-structured biographical interviews conducted in Italy and the UK. We identify the cultural topoi that define artists' narratives, and look at commonalities and contradictions. Finally, we propose a learning curve model that shows how identity and expertise co-evolve along social patterns of skill acquisition and legitimization.

A sociology of causal attribution in music performance: a case study

Pedro Santos Boia

CIPEM/INET-md - Centro de Investigação em Psicologia da Música e Educação Musical, Porto Polytechnic, Portugal; Instituto de Sociologia, Porto University, Portugal

This paper develops a sociological and cultural approach to causal attribution in learning, practicing and performing on a music instrument, proposing a new approach to a yet under-researched topic in music performance and education.

Attribution theory refers to the causes people invoke to explain the success or failure of their actions, and has been typically approached by psychology and social psychology (Heider, 1958; Weiner, 1974).

What students, teachers and performing musicians think to be the reasons of why something is ‘difficult’ to play may be influential upon their attitude and motivation to learn, practice and perform. For historical reasons, the viola has gained in the past the reputation of being a particularly problematic instrument to play. As will be shown, this created a tendency to attribute causes of technical and musical difficulties to the viola itself because of its supposedly inherent ‘limitations’. That fact may have a negative impact upon the efficacy of practicing and creativity in problem-solving, and the player’s ability to overcome difficulties in instrumental technique and musical performance.

This study draws on empirical analysis of real-time data (video recorded lessons), audio and video interviews with players, documentary analysis, and ethnographic evidence. It considers music history, internalization processes and habitus (Bourdieu, 1977; Wacquant, 2004), representations and discourses (Durkheim, 1898; Moscovici, 1981), as well as the players’ actual practices (Zembylas, 2014).

This sociocultural approach to the psycho-social process of attribution wishes to contribute to open the black-box of the tacit dimensions of artistic practices and work, unveiling constraints upon performance, learning and teaching that musicians themselves may not be aware of.

Before stardom. Informal collectives as vehicles of biographical mobility

Piotr Szenajch

Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

This paper aims to reflect on a stage found in the life histories of renowned visual and performance artists with whom I conducted a series of autobiographical narrative interviews.

Before establishing relations with an institutionalized and professionalized art world, my interviewees participated in at least one vibrant collective based on shared beliefs, strong bonds and regular meetings, competing for mutually acknowledged stakes and taking positions within structures resembling a field.

Among the vivid cases I would like to describe there was a radical neo-avant-garde art subculture with punk sensibilities established during Polish martial law in early 1980s; a vigorous nation-wide performance art circuit working without institutional support in early 1990s; but also, an amateur theatrical scene in a peripheral post-communist town or even a provincial cycling club.

In these collectives one can find aspects of strategic action fields (N. Fligstein & D. McAdam), thought collectives (L. Fleck), counterpublics producing their own counterdiscourses (N. Fraser) or a self-organized dark matter (G. Sholette).

As their participants, my interviewees underwent intensive secondary socialization, learned social skills (Fligstein & McAdam) and built their subcultural capital (S. Thornton) but also explored new forms of being together. This contributed to their cultural mobility (P. DiMaggio), built new layers of their habitus (P. Bourdieu) or enriched their heritage of dispositions (B. Lahire).

Thus, such informal collectives could become „vehicles of multidimensional biographical mobility” – what displaces individuals across class structure, discursive formations and positions within social fields – and enabled them to become the most prominent figures of the local art world.

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