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This study examines the social organisation of Canada’s art world from the standpoint of practising visual artists. Bringing together theories of literacy and institutional ethnography, the article investigates the literacy practices of visual artists, making visible how artists use written texts to participate in public galleries and in the social and institutional relations of the art world. Drawing on extended ethnographic research, including interviews, observational field notes and textual analyses, this study sheds light on the ways visual artists enact particular texts, enact organisational processes, and to enact the social and conceptual worlds they are a part of. Through the lens of visual artists, this study locates two particular texts – the artist statement and the bio statement – in the extended social and institutional relations of the art world.
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