The Aesthetic Idealism of Friedrich Schelling gave artworks a role of mental representation of the world. In the present paper, we try to integrate this gnoseological value of Art with the contemporary sociological approach of System Theory. Nowadays, we are witnessing a rapid change in the methods of communication, thanks, first of all, to globalization and digitalization. In spite of this, our thesis is that Art still preserves all its power, both as a communicative instrument and as a hermeneutic tool revealing reality through heuristic paths. Niklas Luhmann says that in a social system characterized by “operative closure” the structure that ensures autopoietic reproduction is represented by communication. In this sense, artworks can be considered as a medium to communicate identity in a self-referential system. In particular, we take in consideration some photographs by the Italian artist Mario Giacomelli (Senigallia, 1925; Senigallia, 2000). As in the myth of Plato's cave, his photographs are like "shadows" on the wall: the projection, through the artist’s sensitivity, of the socio-cultural identity of peasantry in Italian inland after the Second World War. The aim is to experiment an original reading of these pictures, without referring to the models and knowledge of arts critics. Rather, a conceptual scanning is sorted, to bring out the texture of socio-cultural identity related both to the subjectivity of the artist and the objectivity of his representation. Thus, the product of creativity becomes the link, the “structural coupling”, between the psycho-emotional sphere and other systems: family, economy, religion, etc. And Art becomes necessary to preserve, transmit and reproduce the identity in social systems; both at an ontological and an epistemological level.
Key words: Socio-cultural identity, peasantry, art, communication, system theory, structural coupling.
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