P29
Art & religion: beyond-representation in the representation of the beyond

Convenors:
Douglas Farrer (University of Guam)
John Whalen-Bridge (National University of Singapore)
Location:
Sankskrit Conference Room
Start time:
5 April, 2012 at 8:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This panel discusses art, performance, & enchantment vis-à-vis theories of agency & skill applied to artworlds & artworks however defined. Interrogating representation & the beyond facilitates the study of mystical power & numinous experience, whether in spiritual resistance or spiritual domination.

Long abstract:

What basis does artistic enchantment provide for understanding the numinous? What are the implications for theories of agency—or skill—in opening the gateways to unseen realms? Where artists infuse mystical power into their artworks to transform these mediums of expression into a vehicle for indigenous mysticism and the celebration of god(s), beauty may captivate, inspire, enthrall, and empower the artist, viewer, audience, bearer or wearer. Powers of sorcery, witchcraft, and magic; religious, and shamanic power can be regarded through such frames as artistic (depending upon aesthetics, agency or skill); cognitive (informed by symbol, myth, and perception); performative and charismatic (with liminal ritual harnessed to mystical power); and embodied (viz. mana and tapu). The "technology of enchantment" and the "enchantment of technology," from the anthropology of art, may be augmented from the anthropology of performance with "the performance of enchantment" and the "enchantment of performance." The performance of enchantment refers to techniques du corps, hexis, or skills, honed to such a degree through practice, rehearsal, and execution that they take on a magical appearance, to create an uncanny effect upon the audience. Correspondingly, the enchantment of performance refers to mystical procedures used to draw power from the unseen realm. How do artistic practices and artworlds, not limited to architecture, painting, sculpture, music, literature, poetry, calligraphy, incantation, jewelry, weaponry, martial arts, dance, theater, puppetry, body-paint, tattoos, wood and shell carving, mazes, and sand drawings operate as forces of domination or as sites of spiritual resistance to hostile or colonial forces?