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June 18th

Workshop III | On the Economy of Symbolic Goods. Ethnographical Explorations at the Art Basel | Prof. Dr. Franz Schultheis

Seemooser Horn, LZ 07

Prof. Dr. Franz Schultheis
Prof. Dr. Franz Schultheis

In the context of an ethnographical field study on the Art Basel (2012-2013) involving statistical analyses on the development of this event based on relevant indicators and the evaluation of an online questionnaire, a research team from the Department of Sociology of the University of St Gallen used socio-spatial analyses of the internal structure of the Art Basel, in-depth interviews with representatives of all the participating groups of actors, participant observations of the event and a thick ethnographic description of what happens at the fair. The focus was on how, in view of the current changes in the art field (growing importance of emerging buyer groups and the market prices in the ennoblement and consecration of artists and works), the increasingly critical and even contradictory relationship of art and commerce, charisma and money, is thematized, problematized, scandalized, banalized or simply repressed by the participants in the art market and on how the discursive strategies employed to reduce cognitive and ethical dissonances can be identified.

In preparation to the excursion to Art Basel, we will present and discuss the results of the visitors-survey and galleries-survey and look on representative statements in the more than hundred in-depth interviews with different types of players in this area of the global art field in order to identify the social, economical and cultural particularities of this market of singular goods.