Borders and Border Crossing Between Art Worlds
Successful Attempts and Epic Failures to Enter New Domains in Recent British Art
This paper attempts to answer whether it is possible for successful artists in one specific sector to access the domain of another artistic field at their free will. In doing so, this contribution analyses the possible existence of borders and gatekeepers between different art worlds. The aim is not just finding or defining boundaries between art fields, but rather understanding whether boundaries can be pierced through, as well as the conditions that might hinder acceptance. Moving from an art theoretical and philosophical perspective, the present paper will discuss the thesis of Pierre Bourdieu and Howard Becker on boundary conditions in the arts. Subsequently, their views will be tested against three recent cases of British artist celebrities, who tried to enter new artistic domains, although with alternate success. They are the episodes of Damian Hirst painfully failing as a filmmaker, of Steve McQueen slowly working his way up to the Oscars, of Douglas Gordon intentionally and irreverently challenging contemporary theatre.
Keywords: Art worlds • Border crossing • Howard Becker • Gatekeepers • Steve McQueen • Douglas Gordon • Damien Hirst • Pierre Bourdieu • Art field