Aesthetic objects in poverty contexts

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroContributo a convegno


The paper will present and discuss some results from a research on aesthetics and poverty, recently carried out in Milano (Italy), interviewing a sample of Italian and immigrant people, living in indigent conditions. The beauty – as quality ‘generally’ connected to art objects – seems therefore to be tied to property and wealth. But what happens in a context of economic poverty? Does it exist `beautiful' where property of objects is precarious or absent? Using ethnography observation in the houses and the instruments of visual culture (with the use of photos), the research has inquired into the role, the characteristics, the meanings and the functions of some particular objects displayed during the encounters (i.e. daily objects, pictures, religious images, clothes etc..), that the interviewees defined as `beautiful'. All the objects defined as “beautiful” were photographed by researches and furthermore the same interviewees were became photographers. Indeeed, after the interview, they took some snaps with disposable cameras about beauty in their lives (people, objects, spaces, cities, etc.). Later, this kind of photos were used to take another interview . Methodologically, the progress from the self of interviewee to the transitional object, has produced a narrative freedom to account for a personal or family history. The described ‘aesthetic object’ turned out to be polysemic, contiguous to the concept of usefulness, rituality, relation – as anthropology of art suggests. This aesthetics in action, describing the relationship between individuals and some particular emotional daily objects, seems to function as unusual autobiographical tool. So, also in a context of poverty (relative or absolute), some objects – described as beautiful - , seem to carry out the complex function of public representation of self, a function of narration and documentation of the past, displaying a role of genealogic continuity (with the family or with the culture of origin in the case of immigrants) and finally a role of emotional control and practical connection with a present difficult daily life.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteInternational Visual Sociology Association, 2010 International Conference
Numero di pagine5
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2010
EventoInternational Visual Sociology Association, 2010 International Conference, - Bologna
Durata: 20 lug 201022 lug 2010


ConvegnoInternational Visual Sociology Association, 2010 International Conference,


  • Aesthetic
  • Cultura materiale
  • Material Culture
  • Poverty
  • Povertà
  • Sociologia visuale
  • Visual Sociology
  • estetica


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