Accepted paper:

Inheriting the prehistoric past, artistically: two case studies

Authors:

Yoshiaki Furuya (Kyushu University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on two cases in which the regional prehistoric arts/artifacts are utilized by the contemporary artists for the purpose of resurrecting the traditions and/or producing their own works of art. The two cases are Marajoara culture (Brazil) and Jomon culture (Japan). What is at stake here is how contemporary people “artistically inherit” the objects produced and left by the people of the distant past.

Paper long abstract:

I would like to focus on two cases in which the regional prehistoric arts/artifacts are utilized by the contemporary artists for the purpose of resurrecting the traditions and/or producing their own original works of art. Marajoara (ca.400 – ca.1350), a prehistoric culture from Brazilian Amazonia, is famous for its ceramics. In the 20th century, Marajoara geometric designs were adapted to Art-Deco to decorate modern objects and buildings, while local potters began to make copies of Marajoara pottery, ranging from artistic replicas to vulgar souvenirs. Today the Marajoara design is ubiquitous as a token of Amazonian identity. Jomon culture (ca.13,000 BC – ca.400 BC) produced ceramics famous for their aesthetic uniqueness. In recent years, many endeavors have emerged that make use of Jomon ceramics, artistically. Among them is The Jomon Contemporary Art Exhibition in Funabashi (Funabashi Tobinodai Historic Site Park Museum). Every summer a dozen artists exhibit their works of art “inspired” by Jomon culture and art. If the artists so desire, their works are exhibited in the same space where the archaeological specimens are permanently displayed. This makes possible “dialogue“ between prehistoric and contemporary art. In both cases art from the distant past is resurrected and started a second life. They can be interpreted as cases of appropriation by people who have no legitimate right to do so. I prefer to say that at stake is how contemporary people “artistically inherit” the material objects produced and left by the people of the distant, prehistoric past. I would further suggest that this kind of creative artistic process is not restricted to the present day but a phenomenon common to all times and places.

panel P142
Common themes and varied approaches: globalization, migration and popular arts (AAA/JASCA joint panel)