Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Abstract: Kitty Zijlmans - Systems-Theory, Art, and Globalisation

Within the field of systems-theory, I am best familiar with Niklas Luhmann’s theory of dynamic social systems. I started reading Luhmann when I was working on my PhD research in the late 1980s, with the aim to approach art (and art history) through Niklas Luhmann's systems-theory. It took me quite a while to grasp this highly abstract theorizing, but it has remained with me right up to the present. Moreover, in the era of globalisation, Luhmann’s systems-theory seems to be more relevant then ever. Art does not stop at national borders, it is in the words of Immanuel Wallerstein, a system that is a world; a dynamic, self-building contingent operative process. The significance of artworks lies in their communicative role within the art system, not in their physical, formal or material properties. The artwork’s social meaning and effect result from its role as a temporary communication. In this paper I would like to discuss contemporary artworks as agents of global interculturalisation processes.

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