Juliana Torres: When Art Embraces Real Life

The Role of Non-Artistic, Ordinary Materials in Art Democratization
September 25, 2021
Juliana Torres. the secret life of pictures, 2020.
Juliana Torres. the secret life of pictures, 2020.

The Contemporary Art Modern Project is also known as The CAMP Gallery—but we've grown to become a platform for artists and artistic endeavors across the board. 


As such, we're honored to feature Juliana Torres' final thesis When Art Embraces Real Life: The Role of Non-Artistic, Ordinary Materials in Art Democratization.  You can view Torres' contribution to our upcoming exhibition, the third-annual installment of Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse, opening October 1, 2021.




The existing institutional art system understood through its cultural, political, educational, social, and commercial branches, has proven unable to address or include all social classes. This thesis project suggests that artists who make art with poor, humble materials, display it simply, and bring it to unconventional, ordinary places–other than galleries–contribute to a more diverse and democratic understanding of art. They reach a specific public who is either cognitively or physically marginalized from the organized art system or feels unentitled to it.



There are several ways artists can use to reach the excluded public. Nevertheless, an artwork, or an art process will not achieve its purpose, either participative or merely contemplative, if not adequately received and recognized by the new public. As such, the category of raw, non-artistic, common, readymade materials is suitable to this objective because it deepens the connection to reality or everyday life, managing to escape the art categorization system that requires the understanding of art according to specific codes learned in the course of history and life.



Historically, ordinary, found materials were thoroughly used by self-taught, marginalized artists facing resource constraints, like James Castle and Arthur Bispo do Rosário, as their leitmotif to art and connection with reality. They were also applied by artists who effectively and humbly managed to communicate with any kind of public, like Alexander Calder. The New Materialism, which emerged in the 1990s “with critical posthumanist thinkers such as Rosi Braidotti or Karen Barad… is a cross-disciplinary combination of different materialist and monist disciplines that question the existing paradigms of anthropological sciences” (Abadía 168). New Materialism analyses the actant power of non-human things and their relations to humans, their bodies and mind, their lives, society, and its organized forms. Accordingly, it is used in this thesis to unveil the hidden power of common, daily materials and their materiality to foster art within us and to affect, engage, and communicate with people through art.




About the author

Maria Di Giammarco

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