Materials in the field: object-trajectories and object-positions in the field of contemporary art

Dominguez Rubio, Fernando and Silva, Elizabeth (2013). Materials in the field: object-trajectories and object-positions in the field of contemporary art. Cultural Sociology, 7(2) pp. 161–178.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1749975512473287

Abstract

The paper explores the centrality of the physical art object in the field of contemporary art with reference to their material specificities. It is based on an ethnographic study of the conservation laboratory at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and draws from three detailed case-studies where the temporal and spatial trajectory of art objects led to changes in the processes of collaboration, competition, and repositioning of those agents involved in production, exhibition and conservation. The study demonstrates the importance of artworks qua physical objects in the field of contemporary art, claiming attention to materiality in field theory and developing an object-orientation methodology in field analysis. Artworks are shown to intervene in field processes both reproducing divisions and re-drawing boundaries within and between fields, actualizing positions of individuals and institutions.

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