PhD defence F. Weij


Prof.dr. C.J.M. van Eijck


Dr. P.P.L. Berkers


Dr. J.M. Engelbert

Thursday 8 Apr 2021, 13:00 - 14:30
PhD defence
Senate Hall
Erasmus Building
Campus Woudestein
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On Thursday 8 April 2021, F. Weij will defend his PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Geopolitics of Artivism. Evaluation of artivism in the art and media domain in cross-national context’.

Throughout (Western) art history, the visual arts have developed into a distinctive and relatively autonomous societal sphere. As such, the visual arts are primarily governed by a hierarchy of artistic criteria and largely insensitive to criteria unrelated to the arts. More concretely, this means that recognized artists enjoy status on the basis of the artistic (rather than for example economic) value of their work, that is for a large part determined by intermediary art institutions and actors such as art museums, curators, galleries, dealers and critics. More recently, however, several scholars have pointed to social matters increasingly permeating the sphere of visual arts. This is even referred to as a social turn in the arts, in which social and ethical criteria are thought to play an increasingly important role in the evaluation of art. Socially engaged forms of art, such as art activism or artivism, are particularly indicative of this development. If, however, artistic status today is still strongly rooted in autonomous artistic evaluation, then socially engaged artistic practices such as artivism present an interesting puzzle: they appear to follow their own logic, yet seek to achieve societal change through their focus on social engagement. This begs the question how practices such as artivism are evaluated and to what extent they have an impact and enjoy some degree of attention beyond the confines of the relatively autonomous sphere of visual art. The growing body of literature that has come to take shape around social engagement in the visual arts, however, remains incapable of fully explaining these questions for two reasons. First, social engagement in general, and notions such as artivism in particular, often remain problematically broad, ranging from artistic practices that are embedded in – and engage local communities to those that raise and fight against pressing global societal inequalities and human rights issues. Beyond conceptual considerations and anecdotal indications that social engagement is progressively pronounced in the arts, however, it remains unclear under which conditions artistic-activist expressions are accepted. Second, current empirical studies are primarily preoccupied with the role of social engagement within the arts and often overlook how and to what extent social engagement from visual artists travels beyond the confines of the art sphere. In the end, any form of social engagement requires two parties: one engaging and one being engaged. Few scholars systematically and empirically address the questions as to which types of socially engaged artistic practices achieve acceptance not just in the art sphere but in the broader society. I have addressed both problems by conducting research into the reception of artivism within and beyond the arts through the following overarching research question: How are artivists evaluated within the fields of art, news media and social media in a cross-national context?

Due to corona, the PhD defences do not take place publicly in the usual way in the Senate Hall or in the Professor Andries Querido Room. The candidates will defend their dissertation either in a small group or online.

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