Songs and the Performance of Kurdish Identity
1University of Kurdistan, Hewler, Iraq; 2Univeristy of Lisbon
The Kurdish language(s), oral traditions (particularly stories and songs), and more ‘recently’, written literature, have been central to the ‘construction’ of a Kurdish cultural identity, supporting the claim for an independent nation-state. In the contemporary world, the transmission of songs in the media and on the Internet and the recordings of highly influential singers, cross over national boundaries, helping to give Kurdish people across the globe, a sense of common identity. Simultaneously, these cultural strands strengthen the claim of an ‘authentic’ cultural identity, which further supports the arguments for the long desired foundation of a Kurdish nation state. Taking into consideration the importance of songs in contributing towards this sense of a distinctive cultural identity (and the quest for national sovereignty), this paper will start by presenting the results of a questionnaire, two focus groups and 16 in-depth interviews. These are held with higher-education students and their relatives in southern Kurdistan, in relation to the ‘use’ of Kurdish songs in their day-to-day lives. We will then proceed to briefly analyze examples of different song types considered to be common in Southern Kurdistan: historical songs, battle songs, love songs, and laments. We argue that the lyrics of the songs, their performers, and the spaces and times of their performances will provide initial insights – if only partial – into what is designated by Kurdish culture. Furthermore, the analysis of intergenerational attitudes towards different song types can reveal modifications and consistencies in the construction and perceptions of Kurdish national identity.
Street Art as a Point of Conjunction between Figurative Art and Conceptual Art
Università degli Studi di Brescia, Italy
This work focuses on the contraposition of Figurative Art and Socio-Experimental Art between 1960 and 1980 and how Street Art succeeded in reconciling the antithetic vision of the figurative versus the socio-experimental.
In 1979, highlighting the period between 1960 and 1980 during which, for some critics, art only focalized on the ideological, Barbara Rose held “The Eighties: American Painters” exhibition at the MoMA. According to Rose, Rudi Fuchs, the curator of documenta 7, based this exhibition upon the subjectivity of artists who created artworks employing figurative language which could be decoded, albeit to varying degrees, by the general public. This artistic language made use of a code which was not only that of the artists themselves, unlike the cryptic language used by abstract artists; it was a language similar to that of the public of the times.
Reflecting the importance of Figurative Art, Street Art has now gained global popularity, its being a means to present concepts and underline socio-political issues simply. Since street artists are well-acquainted with everyday problems, Figurative Art is not exclusively ideological. The accessibility of Street Art and its ability to express real issues is the point of conjunction between the socio-experimental artist who aims to highlight social issues using language which only he can explain and the figurative artist who may pay less attention to the conceptual and more to the aesthetic.
Grant Proposals: Strategic Discourse or ‘Reasonable Without Being Reasoned’? A Field Analysis of Visual Artists and their Justifications for Government Money.
Ghent University, Belgium
For many visual artists, government funds make up an essential part of their livelihood. We analyze (1) what kinds of justifications visual artists deploy when they request government money, and (2) whether the nature of these justifications is related to artists’ field positions. In other words, we explore whether Bourdieu’s field-theoretical framework¬, which links positions and dispositions through the habitus, can be deployed to understand variation in artists’ justifications. Analyzing 500 Flemish visual artists’ grant proposals (1965-2015), we find five value registers underlying justifications: the reputational, aesthetic, romantic, socio-logical, and entrepreneurial register. We explore with Multiple Correspondence Analysis whether artists’ capital—prizes, previous subsidy success, exhibition career—is related to these value registers and artists’ subsidy success (i.e. decision by the selection committee). Firstly, we find that subsidy success is linked to the symbolic capital of an artist, validating the reliability and validity of our approach—so, capital does matter for success, even more so in the more recent applications. This suggests a Matthew effect underlying the subsidizing process, which we discuss in light of the professionalization of cultural policy and organizational isomorphism. Secondly, we find that the five value registers are only marginally related to an artist’s field position. The justificatory discourse used in the proposals does change over time, but hardly varies with the field positions artists occupy. Supposedly, strategic interests overrule the workings of the habitus. This suggests that the habitus indeed works to its full only by the ‘complicity of the unconscious’.
Georg Simmel's Sociological Aesthetics as "Treausure Hid in the Field" of Empirical Art Sociology
Kunstakademie Duesseldorf, Germany
Georg Simmel and his sociological aesthetics or aesthetic sociology are not given much attention in the field of empirical art sociology nowadays. This strikes me as very suprising. Simmel has not only provided Weber and Bourdieu and probably also Adorno and Foucault with far-reaching methodological suggestions, but has also presented a very stimulating critique of historical materialism. The low attention paid to Simmel's work is probably due to the fact that any form of simplistic dogmatism was a horror to him. Instead he provided us with a vast number of extremely delicate analyses of very diverse subjects. These studies often encourage all kinds of misunderstandings and misinterpretation.
The proposed paper argues that it is precisely the sophistication of Simmel's analyses that makes the strength of his position. I will argue that Simmel offers far-reaching methodological suggestions for researching art and its publics in present times. Current positions in art sociology like Tia DeNora, Antoine Hennion, or Sophia Krzy's Acord reinforce questions of perception and materiality in the sociology of art. Simmel provides here far reaching suggestions: The reconstruction of the relational sociology of Simmel offers very inspiring alternatives to pseudo-objectivistic tendencies within the field of audience research while not following an exaggerated relativism or the decay diagnostics of (Neo)Marxism. I will show that Simmles far-reaching reflections on the epistemological foundations of sociological research are very fruitful for art sociology as they were actually modeled by using the arts as their template. To lift this "treasure hid in the field" (Gessner) of art sociology is the task of my paper.