Materiality, aesthetic gestures and emotional communities: on emotions as artistic medium

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Emotions can be physical experiences. They may cause an unpleasant pressure on your shoulders, contract the skin over your collarbones, or make your arms or chest burn. They can fill your body with aggression, cause a pleasant warmth in your abdomen, or obstruct your breathing. This paper discusses emotions as physical and material phenomena—as matter— and the possibility to understand them as an artistic medium that, comparable to clay, plaster or paint, can determine the character of artworks.

To explore emotions as artistic medium, I shall consider art scenes as “emotional communities” structured by systems of feelings (Ahmed, 2004, Rosenwein, 2010, 2002). Such structures prescribe certain relations between a given aesthetic expression and its supposed emotional force in particular settings. One does not have to agree with a system of feelings, or even share its dominant emotions, but within an emotional community it will still bind certain aesthetic gestures to particular emotions. This, in turn, affects inclusions and exclusions, art historiography, and judgements of quality within the community.

In this paper, I will analyse three art performances by Anna Linder, Line Skywalker Karlström and Jenny Grönvall, which use the emotion of shame to problematize art scenes as emotional communities, from queer feminist perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 26
EventNORDIK 2018 - Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 2018 Oct 242018 Oct 27


ConferenceNORDIK 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Art History


Dive into the research topics of 'Materiality, aesthetic gestures and emotional communities: on emotions as artistic medium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this