Art Is What We Say It Is: “Easy Art” and the Pragmatics of Interpretation

Class Year


Access Type

Archival Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Media Studies Program

First Advisor

Molly Nesbit

Second Advisor

Heesok Chang


Since 2009, Brad Troemel and Lauren Christiansen have run the Jogging, a blog on the popular social media site Tumblr in which they and others post a variety of sloppily rendered and generally silly images to be viewed and shared. What separates the Jogging from the thousands of other blogs like it is that its user claim their posts as artworks, and their blog as a collaborative art project. Such claims are unsurprising in the contemporary context, given the history of 20th century art since at least Duchamp. But questions remain: how have such “easy” artistic gestures becomes established as bona fide artworks, and why should we as a viewing public bother looking at them or thinking about them at all? With the Jogging as its central provocation, this project turns to the institutional theories of George Dickie and the concepts of field, habitus, and illusio of Pierre Bourdieu to show how the value of artworks (“easy” or not) comes to be constructed and weilded for personal gain. The final section uses this seemingly pessimistic base as a foundation for building a pragmatic interpretation of “easy art,” in which such gestures become useful tools (particularly in our digital context) for revealing and subverting similar structures governing areas of life beyond the art world.

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