P19
Anthropology in the contemporary artworld

Convenors:
Clare Harris (University of Oxford)
Kavita Singh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Christiane Brosius (Heidelberg University)
Location:
Arts and Aesthetics Lecture Hall No. 102, SAA-I
Start time:
4 April, 2012 at 8:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

The contemporary artworld is spoken of as a transnational and transcultural space populated by nomadic figures. It can also be said to have fostered the production of art made anywhere, so long as it conforms to 'global' tastes. How should this complex domain be analyzed anthropologically?

Long abstract:

Since the 1960s the artworld has provided fertile territory for anthropological research because it encompasses physical spaces and institutions - galleries, museums, art fairs, the art market - as well as the individuals who visit and control them: artists, art dealers, critics, curators, collectors and viewers. However, most studies have yet to tackle the contemporary artworld: a world that has expanded enormously in the last two decades in terms of where it operates, the number of people it engages and the symbolic and economic capital that it generates. How should we address these recent developments? Are new theories and methods required in order to analyse them anthropologically? How do local and global factors intersect in this highly fluid and networked terrain? The global artworld is now spoken of as a transnational and transcultural domain, traversed by the many nomadic figures who make, view, critique and purchase artworks. But it could also be said to have fostered the production of art made anywhere, so long as it conforms to 'global' tastes. Beneath the rhetoric of a new universal aesthetic, the artworld remains a space of inclusions and exclusions, hierarchies and asymmetries. Should it therefore be characterised as another of Augé's "non-places of super-modernity" or as a transcultural "contact zone" (Pratt, Clifford) and site of contestation? Since the ASA conference 2012 will be held in Delhi, one of the centres of the burgeoning contemporary artworld, we are keen to solicit papers focusing on Asia, but we also welcome contributions concerning other regions.