Shapiro, Roberta: Nation-building through the prism of artification

What in Western Europe had been a century-long process is not only continuing, but intensifying under our very eyes. The trend of artification manifests itself in many directions, as it grows in scope, in pace, and in its geographical expansion. Today there is an ever wider span of activities and of people concerned by artification. The process is accelerating ; artification no longer takes centuries, but decades, and sometimes only a few years for certain producers to see their work transformed into art and their persons transfigured (through training and changes in lifestyle, for instance), and then acknowledged as artists. There is also an extension of art organisations to areas where they were formerly unknown, and an increase in the numbers of support personnel. The population of educators, organisers, critics, gallery owners, heads of museums, collectors and donators, etc., as well as persons with analogous functions in the realm of music, dance and theatre is ever growing in parts of Africa, Asia, or Oceania, where a few decades ago their occupations were unheard of. Artification is not characteristic of the West alone, but is now an integral part of socio-political change worldwide. The process can be linked to nation-building, as has been observed in 19th century folklore collections in eastern Europe, in the founding of National Ballets in 20th century Africa, and in museums in all countries. It can be a conduit for groups to assert identity or ascendancy on the local, regional or national levels, weaponised by politicians or contested by educators, as has been observed in Australia and India.