The Psychiatric Patient Work as a Contact Zone. Some Anthropological Reflections on the Art Brut Collections in Turin

Our paper takes into account the Art Brut / Irregular Art artifacts collections, made in Turin since late late 19th to nowadays, now held in different museums as well as in private institutions of the town, in order to to offer useful prompts to recent discussions in the anthropology of art on the matter of the ethnographic artefact. To this aim, in our research we analised the following issues: 1. What is the status of the work (evidence, art, art brut) made by the psychiatric patients? Can features, objectives and variables of the work help us defining it? 2. What are the (aesthetic, social, economical) circuits in which the works are included? Our communication will offer an overview on the history of Turin psychiatry with reference to this art production both before its definition (the collections conserved in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the University of Turin) and after it (psychiatric hospitals, Basaglia ateliers, art dealers demand), focussing on the case-studies of some objects, conceived as 'contact zones', useful to highlight possible trajectories of meanings and relationships of this material production Moreover, our discussion will include the results of an experimental laboratory we held in Turin with different stakeholders (psychologists, educators, psychiatrists, art therapists, artists).

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