Since at least the early years of the twentieth century, scholars have taken an interest in the artistic and intellectual productions of so-called “outsiders,” or individuals whose unconventional perspectives and aesthetic expression have often been assumed to result from serious mental illness. These artistic creations and written works are generally defined by idiosyncratic characteristics; they can seem to be obscure, obsessive, inconsistent, and even disconnected from reality itself. Matt ffytche believes that these aesthetic objects—and the ways that “outsider” artists have been classified—deserve to be reconsidered.
In this podcast, he reflects on the problem of classifying individuals (and their art) as “outsiders” even while particular artists embraced the phrase’s anti-normative implications. By asking us to question how and why instances of cultural inclusion vs. exclusion occur, ffytche’s scholarship bears relevance to topics extending far beyond twentieth-century art.