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Buying and selling art - Control mechanisms during interaction

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In using the Bakhtinian dialogic approach, this paper examines the microscopicinteraction of three artists, two art buyers and one gallery sales executive inSingapore. The importance of galleries, as go-betweens for artists and art buyersis acknowledged in art world research. This paper however looks at theinteractional levels and identifies social mechanisms that shape art buying andselling behavior. Despite the possibility of skipping galleries in acquiring art,the commercial art gallery absorbs the “emotional costs” of buying and sellingart. Commercial art galleries create and maintain glamourized image of theartist; this image can be destroyed when art buyers go back stage and visit theartist. The clashes of expectations and social contexts when artists and artbuyers transact can be avoided when the transaction is done through thecommercial gallery.

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Can-Seng Ooi

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