Scrutinizing the public. Notes on artistic practice, social agency and the localization of perception: The case of "Surprise Art Centre" in Zimbabwe
Sociologus 55.2005:219-238
Keywords: agency, artistic practice, perception, localization of perception, integration and art

##Starting from a discussion of international modes of reception of art from Zimbabwe, the article examines a form of localization of the perception of art in Zimbabwe, based on the case of the "Surprise Art Centre". It shows how visual art objects are made accessible to a local public, and describes interactions which Tapfuma Gutsa, one of the most famous artists in the country, deliberately initiates and observes within the context of his own daily life, and which he, as an international actor, then integrates in his artistic work. The empirical starting point is the perception of art objects in the "Surprise Art Centre" by people who come from a variety of backgrounds and social milieus. In an international context, the presentation of visual art objects as works of art is normally detached from such social agency contexts. Adopting the perspective of sociology, which concextualises art as social agency, the article shows how the actor-viewers themselves become an observed object and a part of the artist"s creative practice. Finally, it is argued that two important and apparently opposing aspects of contemporary Zimbabwean art are reflected in an artistic practice that is strongly oriented towards the integration of local audiences: a critique of power and dominance structures in the modern art world expressed in local action contexts, and the lived acceptance and recognition of being embedded in a very individual way, in this modernity.##