An Artistic Logic of Practice: The Case of the Performer

By Kathleen Coessens.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The place and importance given to creative, original and aesthetic acts by a culture, is also part of the daily, culturally determined and passed on ways of coping with the world. Artists, as other people, develop their activities and interests inside a broader society and as thus acquire habituses proper to their society. As the artist moves inside an artistic domain or community with its own passed on and handed down action and interpretation patterns, he or she will consciously and unconsciously, in implicit and explicit ways, take in the techniques, interpretational styles and different knowledges concerning the artistic domain.
Starting from the habitus in Aristotle’s, Mauss’ and Bourdieu’s writings, I will stretch this notion towards the artistic realm of music practice and inquire into the possibility and necessity of an artistic expert habitus. Music performance demands the re-enactment/execution of previously imprinted and embodied expert practices. Such practices can be called an artist’s expert habitus, combining embodied schemata and artistic expert know-how. The schemata structure perception, thought, action and communication that can be adapted and recoordinated in specific situations. I propose to consider the artistic performance act as a situated instance of the performer’s expert habitus. After an introduction on the notions of habitus and artistic practice as socially and culturally defined and contextualised phenomena, this article will consider the acquisition of an artistic logic of practice, its relation to society, its specificity and the idiosyncratic trajectory of the artist.

Keywords: Logic of Practice, Habitus, Performance, Music, Artistic Practice

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 942.372KB).

Dr. Kathleen Coessens

Professor, CLWF (Center for logic and philosophy of science), Orpheus Research Center in Music, VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Orpheus Research Center in Music (Ghent), Brussels, Brussels, Belgium

Kathleen Coessens is philosopher and musician, whose research is situated at the crossings of science and art, human creativity and cultural representations, looked at from an embodied, epistemological and philosophical point of view. She graduated in piano and chamber music at the Conservatory of Brussels and the Ecole Cortot at Paris; at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, she studied philosophy, sociology and psychology. She was awarded her doctorate in 2003 with her thesis, The human being as a cartographer-coping with the already epistemized world. A reworked publication will follow in the next year as The human being as a cartographer. She is now professor and post-doctoral researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science), a Senior Researcher at the Orpheus Research Centre in Music, Ghent, and guest-professor at the Conservatory (Artesis Hogeschool), Antwerpen. She teaches ‘semiotics’, ‘sociology of artistic practice’ and ‘arts and performance culture’. Co-author of The Artistic Turn-a manifesto, with Darla Crispin & Anne Douglas 2009.

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