Bargaining for Prestige in the Hide/Seek Exhibition: The Ambiguous Relationship between Economic and Non-Economic Capital and Its Effects

Wiebke Kartheus

Abstract


In 2010, the National Portrait Gallery removed David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly (1987) from their Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition. By gauging the reactions to the removal, this article discusses transactions that illustrate the tenuous relationship between economic and non-economic capital within the art world; a field that constantly disavows the existence of capitalist modes of operation. Based on an unwavering belief in the validity and legitimacy of its own practices, the artistic field tirelessly reproduces its value and continues to determine the value and meaning of art. My analysis of the system, which draws on Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of the field, disavowal, and different forms of capital, aims at showing that anxiety is a driving force within the artistic field that motivates the practices of the field’s agents and thus becomes an influential structuring impetus for the system as a whole. 

Keywords


Pierre Bourdieu, symbolic capital, economic capital, disavowal, anxiety, art exhibition

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