By Kate Crehan
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Extra resources for Community Art: An Anthropological Perspective
Anthropology as a discipline may have arisen out of the colonizing global North’s concern to understand the unfamiliar worlds with which it was coming into contact—all too often with a view to their domination—but at least it has taken those other worlds seriously and genuinely tried to understand how things might look from perspectives other than those of the hegemonic North. And, from such a vantage point, certain categories, such as art, which in the North are taken as timeless and universal, begin to look rather parochial and limiting.
11 For Gramsci, common sense (which does not have the same connotations of down-to-earth, practical good sense in Italian as it does in English) is that hodgepodge of accepted ideas to be found in any given milieu which those who grow up in that milieu absorb unthinkingly through a kind of osmosis so that they appear simply to reflect the way the world is. The power of common sense is that it is ‘knowledge’ we inhabit; the common sense of our particular time and place is so deeply embedded in who we are that it is almost impossible for us to disinter its assumptions about the world and see them as indeed assumptions rather than facts.
It is worth noting that the judgement of the curatoriat and that of common sense share the assumption that, whether for the consumer or the producer of art, ‘good’ art is difficult. For the expert, ‘good’ art should be challenging; art that is too easy to like is immediately suspect. ’ Where hegemony comes in is in the very different weight these judgements have. If the art world is, as Danto claims, a particular ‘discourse of reasons institutionalized’, those who produce this discourse are the experts entrusted by society with the task of classifying and explaining art: the art critics and theorists, those who teach in arts schools, and the artists themselves, who through their practice define art.