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Session Overview
RN02_03b: Artists and Audiences
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Volker Kirchberg, Leuphana University of Lueneburg
Location: GM.307
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Is this even Theatre? Investigating Audiences of Contemporary Theatre and Performance

Laura Gemini1, Stefano Brilli2

1University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy; 2IUAV University Venice, Italy

Despite the growing interest in the study of theatre audiences over the last three decades (Bennett 1990; Reason & Sedgman 2015; Sauter 2010), little attention has been paid to the impact that different theatrical genres have on audience behaviours and experiences. Most often, similarities between classical, modern and contemporary theatre audiences have been assumed rather than addressed by empirical research, disregarding the aesthetic, productive, distributive and relational specificities of the field of contemporary experimental theatre. This paper presents a study on the Italian audiences of contemporary theatre that aims to 1) provide a preliminary profiling of such audiences, 2) investigate how spectators construct the field of the “contemporary” and the difference in terms of experience with other performing arts fields, 3) how contemporary theatre spectatorship relates with other types of media spectatorships. The methodology employed in this study comprises a survey (n= 1039) realized in the most prominent Italian contemporary theatre festivals, 15 semi-structured interviews and four focus groups with young attendees. In all these phases the differences between “frequenter of contemporary and experimental theatre,” “non-frequenter” and “spectators uncertain about the attribution” is addressed, in order to describe attitudes, motivations and attending behaviours by the different degrees of affection and competence towards this specific cultural sector. Although the investigated audiences present very heterogeneous features, they show a strong willing to accept the challenges of artistic innovation, they have an omnivorous media consumption routine and an appreciation for contemporary art, music and cinema generally stronger than that for more classical theatre forms.

Richard Sennett and the Jewish Ghetto in Venice: for a Socio-Literary Interpretation of Cultural Displacement

Andrea Lombardinilo

Gabriele d'Annunzio University, Chieti-Pescara (Italy), Italy

This proposal aims to further investigate the relationship between power, conflict and displacement developed by Richard Sennett in the first part of his volume “The Foreigner: Two Essays on Exile” (2011). The purpose is to focus on the literary references (Shakespeare and Castiglione among others) chosen by Sennett to snapshot the instable balances determining the cohabitation with the Jewish community in Renaissance Venice. The particular social and cultural scenario marking life in Venice allows Sennett to dwell on the contingent tensions begot by the presence of the Jewish community. To the fore is a clever reflection on the condition of exiled people in a foreign land, to the extent that this issue implies a reflection on the rights of citizenship and principle of tolerance at the dawn of our modernity. The practice of power may foster the confliction between justice and violence, as Sennett emphasizes in reference to the pogrom which afflicted the Jewish in 1627. This means the precariousness of the exile people, subdued to the unfathomable action of justice and the sudden manifestations of violence. Hence follows the reference to Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice” that Sennett viewed as representing the centrality of the unwritten word in commercial affairs at the time of old Dukes. The role of trust among people and the communicative dimension highlighted by Sennett in reference to “the legitimation and protection of words in themselves” preludes to the social learning of Shakespearian work, so much needed in the quest for understanding of our post-modern complexity: “the connection between freedom of speech and sanctity of contract. This economic freedom derives from freedom of speech”.

The Connection Of The Everyday Objects With The Reproduction Of Art- Working on Armenian Visual Culture Through Mahreç Arthouse, Istanbul

ESİN Berktas

Beykent University, Turkey

Karl Marx argues that the economic mode of production i.e. infrastructure determines the culture of each society called superstructure. This life circle represents the production, reproduction, and transmission of the culture. As a special case, Urartian people created one of the most important civilizations of Eastern Anatolia. For Urartian people, visual ornamentations over jewelry and daily objects were depicting their public life, private memories, rulers, beliefs, ideas, hopes, emotions, desires, gestures, wars, holy icons, rituals etc. Urartian culture has been inherited by Armenian people who maintained this visual language over this background.

Coming today, Istanbul, as we all know, is very famous with its historical accumulation in museums, galleries, antique shops, private institutions, and collections etc. One of the most important places of this archive is Grand Bazaar. Within this economic arena and having a close relationship with the art scene, Mahreç Arthouse in Istanbul is a private Armenian art school specialized on the design and production of jewelry. If we look at the organizational structure of this art school as “a big atelier” we can confront different memorial objects including historical equipment, visual materials, examples of products etc. In fact, these materials compose “the timeless, spaceless, traditional" cultural infrastructure upon which a contemporary understanding of jewelry design has been constructed. These valuable objects are very important to keep the social as well as the political identity of different social groups alive. In fact, these old objects symbolizing the social status and economic class of the owner, protect the aura of the “genuine, old, original and real” from unstoppable, faceless transformation created by the capitalist mode of production and capitalist lifestyle in modern times.

From Art Museums to Galleries: the Role of Art Institutions in the Czech Republic through the eyes of their Audience

Ewa Grigar1,2

1Charles University Faculty of Arts, Czech Republic; 2North Carolina State University (Prague center)

While more than two decades ago the sociologist Vera Zolberg noted that many studies have been suggesting the advent of new audiences to be one of the main common motors of change in artistic practice, it seems that many art institutions still face many struggles with creating a better relationship between their status as art educational facilities and their visiting audience.

Based on the empirical research study involving the collection of over 500 surveys conducted in ten different art museums and galleries in the city of Prague (over the period of two years), the case of the Czech Republic appears to be not an isolated one. The visitors participating in the survey and representing different generations, raise equal concern over scarcity of art history education and equal access to contemporary and historical art objects at their visiting premise. Furthermore, the presentation of art works in the museum\gallery space, oftentimes does not evoke desired expectations of their curators, hence weakens the propensity for effective perception.

Indeed, the aim of my presentation is to examine and unveil the (un)\educational character of the Czech art museums and galleries as seen by their audience differentatiated by age, education, and social class, among other other factors. Additionally, the opinions of interviewees relating to permanent and temporary exhibitions being visted, can offer better guidance to art institutions when making choices over subject, content, and display, to more effectively serve their institutional role as a faciliator in providing truly public education.

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