Contemporary Art on Lithuanian Television: Agents and Shifting Roles
Keywords:television, cultural TV show, audiovisual representation of art, communication of contemporary art, Field Theory
The aim of this article is to briefly discuss the changing relati onship between Lithuanian television and the contemporary art field, as well as the way that the contentproducing agents in the field (journalists, art critics, artists, art institutions etc.) shape the dynamics of this rela tionship. The article focuses on the cases of culture and art being presen ted on television or, vice versa, television itself being reflected upon by art. Based on the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of art, the relationship between these two fields and their participants can be viewed as a conti nuous negotiation of publicity, production of social meaning, and archiving of cultural memory. The core concepts introduced by Bourdieu, which allow us to evaluate the legitimising power of art and the importance of television as a dissemination resource, are employed to analyse these intersections within these fields, their hierarchical divisions, and the resulting tensions.
The analysis of the most notable television projects that have turned into artistic practices and were realised in Lithuania over the co urse of three decades, such as tvvv.plotas by the artist duo of Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, the Contemporary Art Centre’s CAC TV, or the Art-o-thlon entertainmentoriented arts championship, reveals the diver se collaborative forms and strategies of that emerge from the interaction between television and contemporary art. In some cases, compliance with the rules of television entails a deliberate misinterpretation and misappro priation of these rules, while in others, it allows for the emergence of a new social reality where the concepts and the specific vocabulary of the field are changed and simplified, and certain established classification schemes eliminated.
The article regards the relationship between art and television as a communicative act, where cultural meanings are not transmitted but rather constantly created, while the audience itself has a chance to participate as a creative collaborator free to interpret the received messages in its own way. With regard to the changing role of the television medium in the general field of information dissemination and media culture, a fundamental shift of roles is evident – with the further segmentation of audience, television retreats to the position of a neutral moderator or platform that offers the services of a (digital) public space, while art institutions, willing to be visible players in the field, initiate and produce content about them selves.