Week 2: Gatekeepers, Bricolage, and Social Activism
This past week, we dove into the processes of how one enters and, more importantly, stays relevant in the art world. A variety of intricate social circles, firms, and gate keepers dominate the art world. To be a part of a movement, is to join and work in a specific stylistic group. To get one’s work out into the public, an artist must network their way to the top and strike a balance between following social conventions and being innovative. From there, it’s a constant competition to stay in front of the public eye in the overflowing realm of art production. Those who end up being the most successful are those that work with the market, not against it.
Kathy provided us with a prime example of what a superstar looks like by showing our class the film, Sing Your Song. The documentary follows Harry Belafonte’s journey to success. Belafonte networked his way to the top, introduced new styles of music while working with the market, and used his platform to promote social activism. He constantly evolves his art styles and strategies for activism, in order continuously do social work that is beneficial, and to push art and music into new waves.
The second primary focus of the week was the audience. The audience is who gives meaning to an artwork. Art communicates through symbols that represent universal ideas. Art, social groups, or movements begin to become powerful when they harness the power of symbols through bricolage, the application of new meanings or definitions to symbols that are outside usual social conventions.
The art world operates by a series of rules and is much more exclusive than it seems. I realized that the fundamental steps to becoming a successful artist should be applied to my life and can serve as key strategies in the development of my success. I also recognized that, without an audience, the art that society, my community and I make becomes pointless. Art is unable to stand alone, it must be understood by those who consume it.
Now we come to ask, “Do artworks and movements actually matter?” We’ll see what third week has in store.