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IUAES 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. 5-10 August 2013.

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Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013

(WMW03)

Art and anthropology: common grounds (IUAES Commission on Urban Anthropology)

Location Alan Turing Building G207
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 09:00

Convenor

Kathrin Wildner (HafenCity University) email
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Short Abstract

Both anthropology and contemporary art are forms of gaining knowledge and of intersubjective presentation. The politics of representation are a common topic for them. The common ground they inhibit include the document, innovative representational practices, and alternative strategies of research.

Long Abstract

For urban anthropology, contemporary art scenes are interesting in that they usually are located in the global metropolitan centers. Museums, academies, galleries, exhibitions, art biennials, artists' groups and circles, institutions of art critic, public relations, and distribution are part of urban structures. Their members can become important discursive partners of anthropological research.

Both anthropology and art are forms of gaining knowledge and of intersubjective presentation. Art and anthropology need more than direct interaction with people. They need memories, something which is written down or made visually accessible. With such documents, creators of art and anthropology place themselves ""between their audiences and the world" (Schneider/Wright 2006:16). The "politics of representation" are a common topic for them: translation, understandability, accessibility while keeping the depth of experience, which is interwoven with linguistic and biographic approaches. Innovative representational practices develop, and alternative strategies of research, (re)creating, and exhibiting are developed.

The round-table panel I want to suggest to you is meant to address all these topics and more from the common ground that anthropology and contemporary art inhibit. Analyses of works, of approaches, theoretical considerations, ethnographies of art scenes, interviews with artists, and comments on current cooperations of anthropologists and contemporary artists are welcome.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Urban Cultures of Global Prayers - Artistic Research and Urban Ethnography

Author: Kathrin Wildner (HafenCity University)  email
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Short Abstract

At the roundtable I would like to discuss the challenges and potentials of new forms of ethnographic and artistic research in urban settings based on the experience of the international research project 'Global Prayers. Redemption and Liberation in the City'.

Long Abstract

At the roundtable I would like to discuss the challenges and potentials of new forms of ethnographic and artistic research in urban settings based on the experience of the international research project 'Global Prayers. Redemption and Liberation in the City'.

Global Prayers explores urban settings in which new religious communities and movements have emerged and multiplied over the past several decades. The project looks at the various ways in which new religious practices, communities and movements transform urban structures. Research focuses on urban spaces and cultures as well as on different forms of governance in contemporary cities exploring questions such as how religious practices shape material and social spaces.

Global Prayers is an interdisciplinary research and art exhibition project with a methodological focus on the interface between urban ethnography and artistic research. This means that international fellows as well as artists study and analyse local cases in global metropolises. This collaboration contributes to the development of alternative ways of knowledge creation and new forms of presentation.

Drawing on the experience of Global Prayers' ethnographic and artistic research, I would like to present some examples focusing on methodological aspects and the (re)invention of tools (mappings, sounds, interventions) to discuss the common grounds and differences of artistic and ethnographic research in urban studies.

Ethnographic evidence of an emerging transnational arts practice? Framing perspectives on UK and Mexican community participatory arts practice: artists catalysing change through creative engagement.

Authors: Anni Raw (Newcastle University)  email
Ana Rosas Mantecon (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana)  email
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Short Abstract

Exploring UK and Mexican community participatory arts, we discuss conceptualisations of a contemporary commonly shared arts practice. International comparisons suggest transnational trends; video documentation illuminates findings. Implications discussed for new insight into creativity and ‘change’.

Long Abstract

This paper draws on current ethnographic research exploring community-based, participatory arts practice in the North of England and in Mexico City, questioning whether such art forms, taking shape in sites away from recognised urban contemporary art hubs, can nevertheless contribute in new ways to understandings of creativity, and thereby to a conceptualisation of the link between art and social change.

The task initially is to discuss whether a core, common arts practice can be identified and conceptualised. Noting the value of using an ethnographic approach, and of exploring two entirely discreet national sites, the international comparison is used to question whether, if such a form can be identified at all, the practice can be considered 'transnational', displaying shared characteristics and commonalities that transcend national contextual differences.

Research findings trace recurring commonalities in the practice observed, and in the deeply reflective discussions with practitioners in both countries. Audio-visual documentation is presented to illuminate the practice studied, and to give a direct voice to practitioners and participants, in discussing the work. The discussion draws out convergences and divergences in practice norms in both sites, suggesting indications from these findings of the existence of an emerging, transnational arts practice. The obviously interdisciplinary nature of the practice highlights the value of an anthropological approach to the research, able to focus on the humanity at the heart of the artists' approach and thereby illuminate the unique workings of this expression of creativity, and reflect on its potential value in contemporary societies.

Creativity and sale in art: plastic artists at handicraft markets

Author: Lígia Dabul (Universidade Federal Fluminense)  email
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Short Abstract

By performing an ethnographic research with plastic artists that sell their works at handicraft markets in Fortaleza, Brazil, we discuss a widely spread idea about artistic production made by lower classes: the correlation between their strong link with sale and their supposedly non-creative manner.

Long Abstract

By performing an ethnographic research with plastic artists that sell their paintings next to craftsmen at handicraft markets in Fortaleza, Brazil, we discuss a very common idea about artistic production made by lower classes: the correlation between their strong link with sale and their supposedly non-creative manner, because it would be based on the reproduction of aesthetic standards, materials and techniques that would guarantee their commercial acceptance, mainly by tourists, in the case studied. We would try to demonstrate how the sale situation, apart from being a moment to obtain necessary resources to their means of living, consists many times in an important mechanism that the artists use to evaluate and confirm the specific artistic value of their products. On the other hand, we will show that many of those plastic artists do not consider their work as repetitive, they mention a series of frequent innovations that are not always acknowledged by customers and descri

> be creative experiences that lead them to create very special pieces, whose value would only be recognised by a capacitated public which wouldn't normally attend these markets. The acknowledgment of a public and exhibitions spaces hierarchy together with an acknowledgment of the artists' legitimacy to participate directly in sale operations — which they should ideally stay away from, and focus solely on art creative processes - turn the sale of these pieces at markets into a tense experience for plastic artists who have already sold works at spaces like galleries and have been submitted to specialised public.

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The Pink Popcorn: artists, theories and the creation of a "social field of art"

Author: Dayana Zdebsky de Cordova (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)  email
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Short Abstract

By exploring an art work entitled PIPOCA ROSA made in Brazil in the early 2000s, this paper discusses how Bourdieu's idea of "social field" came into play through the creation and circulation of this art work.

Long Abstract

This paper aims to provide an ethnographic account of an art work entitled PIPOCA ROSA (Pink Popcorn), produced by a group of artists that worked and lived in the Brazilian city of Curitiba during the early 2000s. By taking this specific example, the aim is to discuss the fact that contemporary art is informed by social theories and the role that such theories play in the production and circulation of art. The main interest is to reflect on how social theories corroborate with the images that the contemporary art actors make of their own territory. I argue that these artists as well as other art agents theorize on visual contemporary art based on Bourdieu's idea of "social field", a perspective that provides them with a vision of their relationships with other actors that greatly affect the way they produce and circulate their own art work. Therefore, such works do not reveal the borders of an already existing and defined social field, but rather produce it by means of the circulation of objects and people; and tension the relationship between the social theories and thought schemes of the people that such theories refer to.

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Producing interdisciplinary knowledge, art and anthropology

Author: Sandra Fernandez (UNED)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper aims to show, by means of ethnography, a production process of artistic and scientific knowledge. I examine the collaborative process of construction, through “workshops”, of one specific kind of objects: the “prototypes”. The prototypes are the physical shape taken by a mixture of different knowledges and personal paths between many different agents in the field.

Long Abstract

My proposal consists of an ethnography of an emerging artistic practice in today's urban societies, the practice developed around artistic and scientific production laboratories: the media-labs. These production centers exist the world over and are oriented toward artistic and scientific development, blending creativity, traditionally associated with art, with other domains from the sciences, creating a new form of socioeconomic production and technological competition. These labs are part of a complex network of individual and collective agents forming a fuzzy circuit, around which they move in a disorderly fashion, producing a series of heterogeneous links through which they experience and construct themselves as a community. They do this by using the new communications tools and physical coexistence in workshops and shared learning spaces. The kind of work developed is based on collaboration practices. The particularities of this way of working are due, above all, to the fact that the projects are planned to be carried out by a team, not just by the people who propose them. As anthropologist, I have been collaborating myself in three different workshops where my background, between other aspects, has had some impact on the developed of each prototype. I did my fieldwork with the same movements with which I collaborated on the project.

My research is then focus on emerging artistic practice, their production processes and social organization. The stress is in "workshop" as place to learn and work together, from interdisciplinarity, trying to re-think about new and old ways of producing knowledge.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Sponsors

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