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Economics & The Plastic Arts

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Goldsmiths, University of London

8 Lewisham Way

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SE14 6NW

United Kingdom

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The impulse for this workshop is to explore what is the evolving nature of art, and how this can relate and inform the way we understand economics.

WORKSHOP BOOKLET (INCLUDING SCHEDULE)

Gotthold Lessing in his seminal enlightenment work, Laocoön, wrote about the strengths of the arts in representing different aspects of reality, and created the groundwork both for renewing the link between the perception of reality and mimetic representation, and for distinguishing the domain of the different arts in what they can faithfully capture. In contrast, August Schlegel's work, distinguished between ancient and the modern aesthetics, by both problematizing the very nature of representation in art, and as a consequence the distinct separation of fields of art.

Schlegel is chiefly remembered today as a central figure of the German Romantic movement. He argued that modern art relates to an environment that arose within specific historical conditions, and, as a result, requires a completely new framework of understanding. Art cannot be seen to mimic nature, an aspiration of ancient art that was re-affirmed in the Enlightenment and the classicist tradition. For Schlegel, art could not be a mere ‘imitation’ or ‘representation’ of nature; it is the product of a creative force and, therefore, of expression. Thus he writes in relation to poetry, “the poetry of the ancients was the poetry of enjoyment, and ours is that of desire” (Schlegel, 2015 [1845], 10).

This workshop examines the potential relation and dialogue between plastic arts and economics. Both terms are widely used, but definitions are elusive. If plastic arts essentially relate to the world as something that can be moulded, shaped and transformed, then it is nothing more than a mode of expression, a state of mind. Is, then, economics with all its devices and other trappings another plastic art? According to some of its practitioners, economics appears to be a rational, enlightenment-inspired machine to uncover social and economic reality. Economic theory has been described as representing, predicting, abstracting, imagining, mimicking and simplifying reality, in its effort to define how it relates to the social sphere. Also, economic theory is not monolithic and different traditions that emanate from past eras and strands within the discipline come up with a range of answers on the relation between economic theory and reality. Perhaps, one result of this plurality may be to see economic theory as a romantic reengineering of our society, its values and its processes. This leads us to the following questions: Does theory explain and uncover natural, immutable and ever-present tendencies or does it form and transform our understanding of the social environment by appealing to modern aspirations? How does art mediate this difficult relation between reality, representation and transformation? These are the themes that this workshop investigates.

SPEAKERS WILL INCLUDE:

  • Stavros Alifragkis Adjunct Lecturer, Hellenic Open University & Department of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Jorella Andrews Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Sheila Dow Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Stirling
  • Leah Durner Painter, New York
  • Jill Gibbon Senior Lecturer in Graphic Arts, Leeds Beckett University
  • Ariane Hillig Lecturer in Economics, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Sarath Jakka Postdoctoral Researcher, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Kent
  • John Latsis Associate Professor in Social and Organisational Theory, Henley Business School, University of Reading
  • Foteini Lika Researcher, School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University
  • Jamie Morgan Professor of Economics, Leeds Beckett University
  • Stratos Myrogiannis Researcher, School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University
  • Claire Pignol Associate Professor of Economics, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne PHARE
  • Constantinos Repapis Lecturer in Economics, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • C.D. Rose Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing, University of Birmingham
  • Sara Stevano Lecturer in Economics, University of the West of England
  • Ekaterina Svetlova Associate Professor in Finance and Accounting, University of Leicester
  • Michael Uebel Research Affiliate, Office of the Associate Dean for Research, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin
  • Astrid Van den Bossche Lecturer in Marketing, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Ragupathy Venkatachalam Lecturer in Economics, Goldsmiths, University of London
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Goldsmiths, University of London

8 Lewisham Way

London

SE14 6NW

United Kingdom

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