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Title: Beyond the code : unpacking tacit knowledge and embodied cognition in the practical action of curating contemporary art
Author: Acord, Sophia Krzys
ISNI:       0000 0004 2713 0200
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2009
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Re-evaluating classic work in the sociology of the visual arts, this Ph.D. thesis explores the tacit and practical bases of artistic mediation with reference to curatorial exhibition making in contemporary art. Data presented here derive from a visual microethnographic study of the exhibition-making process in two elite European centres for contemporary art (London’s Institute of Contemporary Art and ARC/Musée D’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris), combined with an additional thirty-five interviews with other curatorial professionals. By focusing on the visual dimensions of curatorial work, this thesis uses a case study in the sociology of art to think more broadly about aesthetic materials as active mediators of action, or actants in the sense of actor-network theory. Drawing on work in the sociology of education, communication studies, and the sociologies of science and technology, this research explores how the material, embodied, and situated interactions between curators, objects, and environments are constructed and understood in reflexive relation to more explicitly cognitive and verbal representations, interpretations, and accounts. In planning and installing an exhibition of contemporary art, curators frame artworks and build meaning based on the material and conceptual resources at hand. The plans made by curators when preparing an exhibition and composing textual documentation are altered and elaborated during the installation of contemporary art in the physical presence of the artworks and gallery space. The disjuncture between curatorial plans and these situated actions has consequences for the public presentation and comprehension of the final exhibition. In documenting these processes as they take shape in real time and in relation to material objects, the body, and the built environment, this work aims to contribute to the on-going developments and debates that centre on the creation of a ‘strong’ cultural sociology and to extend core sociological thinking on the social structures and bases of action.
Supervisor: DeNora, Tia ; Witkin, Robert Sponsor: Overseas Research Scholarship ; Exeter Research Scholarship ; British Sociological Association's Support Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cultural sociology ; Microethnography ; Object relations ; Expert studies ; Grounded aesthetics ; Emotion ; Knowledge production ; Microsociology