Accepted paper:

India's contemporary art on global highways


Cathrine Bublatzky (Heidelberg University)

Paper short abstract:

International survey exhibitions on contemporary art from India importantly shape the global mobility of agents and art objects in the international art world. With a focus on the ‘Indian Highway exhibition’, this paper will discuss the symbolic dimension of this mobility and asks how Anthropologists can approach the field of contemporary art and the museum as a space of transcultural encounter.

Paper long abstract:

Due to new economic and personal cooperation the mobility of artists, curators and art objects in the global art world grows tremendously and includes an increasing number of upcoming art centers across the world. International survey exhibitions on contemporary art from India like the travelling exhibition 'Indian Highway' (2008 - 2013) importantly shapes these global dynamics of circulation. These provoke complex encounters between agents from various regions and with different backgrounds and contribute to discourses on meaning, value and definition of contemporary art from India. Presuming that these encounters are producing such a symbolic dimension of mobility in the art world (Rodriguez 2007), I want to elaborate on the question how and why 'Indian Highway' defines an interesting research field for Anthropologists. Therefore, this paper will apply the methodological approach of multi-sited ethnography (George E Marcus 1995; Falzon 2009) to the theoretical challenge of analysing the museum as public site where definitions of cultures and their values are permanently contested. Taking the museum and thus the exhibition 'Indian Highway' not as a static knowledge-fabric, the moment of transcultural encounter (with Manson 2006) shall be elaborated on in order to critically reflect on both the museum as a contact zone (after James Clifford 1997) as well as on the research method of multi-sited ethnography.

panel P19
Anthropology in the contemporary artworld