Fieldwork in Religion, Vol 6, No 2 (2011)

“Search-and-Replace”: Artists' Worldviews Detected and Researched

Rhea Hummel
Issued Date: 4 Apr 2012


Artists are prototypical over-conscious individuals. For the exploration of the methodological issues of the study of the language used in life stories as expressions of modern worldviews, artists' cases are very useful. Their search for unique authenticity includes their worldview. They do not simply reproduce worldview repertoires, but select items that are subsequently given new meaning, producing a new and exclusive pattern. As a consequence, the grey area between religious and secular convictions is over-represented in artists' autobiographies. Thus the modern processes of individualization and secularization become visible in their life stories.
In an interdisciplinary study of thirty life narratives of Dutch artists, the author has combined methodological insights from literary studies and the cultural anthropology of religion. The difficulty of generalizing about what is presented as unique and authentic is discussed, including the author's quest for a plausible typology. Special attention is given to the models that artists use for their life stories, and to the striking role of inconsistency in their accounts.

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DOI: 10.1558/firn.v6i2.134

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