IIPC Debate 68
Wed 25 March, 12-2 pm, Janus Hall (Kaivokatu 12, Turku)
Dr Jozef Kovalcik (The Academy of Fine Arts and Design Bratislava)
The high culture – useless concept?
The concept of high culture has been refused and criticized as elitist, hierarchical, modernistic or exclusive since sixties. High culture lost its dominant position within many western societies and it is not understood as a domain with inherent aesthetic and moral value. Moreover, it has an ironical meaning when we talk about some petit bourgeois artistic ambitions or snobbish preferences. Instead of concept high culture are used terms as art, alternative, non-commercial or even avant-garde culture. This is not to say that high culture has disappeared. It usually emerges when we start to compare traditional institutions – art schools and academies, galleries, theatres, publishers, operas – but also small cultural activities and projects with popular culture. Not to mention when we apply for foundation or when we try to defend existence of artistic study programs. Moreover, these very various and different practices, forms, texts, artworks and audiences are not any more connected to one particular class – dominant or dominated. In my lecture I will try to describe some consequences of this situation and outline possible answers for the following questions: could we consider the category of “high culture” as a valid descriptive category or is better to use it as political term? The category of high culture had unitary form which was derived form idea of exclusiveness, autonomy and/or best aesthetic quality, is there any (if any) entity which could unify so various contemporary practices? An opposition to popular culture was understood as a very core of identity of high culture, is it tenable to construct this domain alike?
Jozef Kovalcik (PhD) is a Slovakian philosopher who has focused mainly on design and popular culture in his scholarly work. He has been the vice rector of The Academy of Fine Arts and Design Bratislava and is a founding member of the Slovakian society for aesthetics. Spring 2015 Kovalcik published the book Aesthetics of Popular Culture, edited together with Max Ryynänen, that contained texts from various European aestheticians.