Democratisation: a new -ism in art (2018)

Essay written in context of exploring Essentials in Art & Music. In the essay a new "ism" in art is proposed.

I introduced "democratisation" as ism, and explored its appearance in the arts via the works of Wolgang Staehle ("The Thing", 1991), The Living Theatre ("Paradise Now", 1968), Stuart Temple ("PINK: The World's Pinkest Pink 50gr Powdered Paint", 2016), and the concepts of "Sozial Plastik" by Joseph Beuys, and  "Gaga Movement Language" by choreographer Ohad Naharin.


The advancing digitalisation in the last two to three decades not only impacted daily life, business and politics, but also the artistic landscape. Through digital technologies art became more accessible - for it being available 24/7 - and for a larger audience available - for it is no longer only available in museums and galleries, destined for the higher classes in society. Additionally, the digital nature of the art now often allows interaction with the artwork as well. This altogether is often coined as the democratisation of art. However, I would like to argue for a different conception of democratisation in art. First, because I identify “democratisation” in art not just in contemporary (digital) pieces, but also in art or art concepts that are significantly “older”. Making democratisation in art something of all times. Second, because I think democratic art entails much more than just being more accessible and interactive. Other powerful elements I observe are liberation, redistribution of control, and negotiation of interpretation. But I also communal effort, and criticism. In short, in this paper I will explore a more broad notion of the term democratisation in an artistic context through a number of artists, their work, and their accompanying body of thoughts. Furthermore, I argue how democratisation is not just a phenomena occurring or a topic dealt with in art, but also an actual tool or strategic approach deliberately chosen by the artist to make the artwork and to achieve a desired effect with it.