2016 - Still Life & Everyday Aesthetics. (July)
Extending Everyday Aesthetics with Kalle Puolakka, Arto Haapala, Rosa Fernandez Gomez, Yves Millet, Sanna Lehtinen
Coordinated by the International Institute of Applied Aesthetics, Finland.
Still Life & Everyday Aesthetics
A micro-aesthetics perspective
In western languages, we still have a number of adjectives inherited from the past that continue to influence our conception of what can be aesthetics of everyday life. These adjectives are, for instance: trivial, undignified, mundane or prosaic. Within the art field, they all implement a strong distinction between what is lowly and lofty regarding subject and materials. In the French language, for example, some of them became substantive, such as ‘the trivial' or ‘the prosaic'. Even though the use of the substantive form is rare, this occurrence gives us the opportunity to investigate how still life could be seen as the Trojan Horse allowing everyday life to enter the city of academicism. Such has been the case since 1599, when Caravaggio painted the Canestro di Frutta which was the real first entry in western painting of the prosaic - understood here as the poetry of the commonplace. The turbulent Italian painter got rid of all conventions in order to pursue a form of realism that could not suffer any compromise. To find an equivalent we probably must wait for Edouard Manet, who also gave the same equality of treatment between a basket of fruit and a female nude. Today, in art, the prosaic is everywhere, since the mundane world has imposed itself progressively from the intrusion of everyday objects and scenes in still life or genre painting, the increasing role of description in literature, to the massive circulation of photography and film. Significantly enough, this progressive introduction of objects and scenes from the everyday life follows the development of democracy as a social horizon. In a sense, as Jacques Rancière stressed, the traditional art hierarchy of genre vanishes at the same rate that the capability for people to express themselves increases. Given the time of presentation, I would like to focus on still life in order to investigate how the development of everyday aesthetics can be seen as the direct consequence of our acceptance (or tolerance towards) the commonplace in art, and how such micro dialogue between everyday life and art opens up awareness towards our environment and its components.