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art | فن

WHAT DOES ART MEAN?

Extremely difficult to define, due to a vast diversity of historical and contemporary meanings, art is one of the central concepts of TASAWAR Curatorial Studios.

Nonetheless, we must at least attempt to “define” the term as a starting point in our essential task of MOVING BETWEEN LANGUAGES. In “defining” the term art, we hope to clarify its scope, rather than restrict its meaning or potential applications in varying contexts and for different people or circles.

Most often, definitions for the word “art” feature the same keywords: creativity, production, aesthetic, knowledge, skill, human activity and expression, to name a few.

We collected aspects from existing English definitions that touch on the diverse meanings of “art”, including: the artifact(s) of creative making, the possession of a gift, a consciously created product or experience, and/or the studies of human creativity and social life.

For more insight regarding the broad range of usage of this term, see some of our choice sources: BRITANNICA and OXFORD.

Moving to Tounsi

The word Art in Tunisian comes from the Arabic word “fan”فن. It mean the same thing to a certain extent and sometimes has different nuances but it contains always the same source meaning from the previous defining aspect that we collected in English.
In colloquial language, Art in Tunisian has more a tendency to mean music. That is related maybe to ancient use of the term and the art forms that dominated the cultural history.
Based on the Arabic origin of the word “fan”, we can consider the historical fact that music and poetry was the art form in the Islamic culture that widespread the concept of art.
Visual representation was a controversial subject through the Islamic cultural history as well as singing.
We can argue the hypothesis that the meaning of art followed a different path than maybe in the western world where in Arabic/Islamic culture it was either music or handcraft maybe with all the decoration, architecture, furniture design and abstract sculpture… . Therefore we have some kind of meaning declination coming from the word “fan”. If we talk about someone and we say he is a “fannen” (wish mean an artist) in general and in colloquial language either we mean he is actually an artist from a musical background (musician, singer … and in general pop culture) or as well we can mean that this person is a some kind of genius. So we can talk about a cook, carpenter, etc as a “fannen” we mean that he is an artist in what he is doing.
Part of the meaning “artist/fannen” include different concept but doesn’t mean necessarily art practitioner It means that Artist/fannen is someone that is good in his job. But it include passion, intelligence, master, creativity, perfection, surprise, talent, craziness… .

Example sentences of the use of the word (in different context) by Tunisian:
Exercise to find example sentences via TASAWAR community.

Entry developed by Aisha A Abbassi and Aymen Gharbi.