B20 Rethinking Art
Rethinking Art and Anthropology
Coordination: Christiane Brosius
India Art Summit, New Delhi, 2011 (photo: C Brosius)
The project approaches the entanglements of anthropology and art, in theory and methodology, by using transculturality as a conceptual key in order to a)
challenge and push the discipline's conceptual and methodological boundaries in the context of globalised cultural production and to b) transcultural
ethnography to better understand globalised art circuits, institutions and agents. The focus is on India and Nepal since 2000 and four case studies will
generate a vibrant discussion around inner-Asian art networks, the role of public art in urban space, and themes generating clusters of art wrks and
events, such as climate change, urban sustainability, or civic participation. Case-studies focus on 1) the migration of cultural difference into globalised
and yet very local art events such as the India Art Fair (Delhi) or the Kathmandu International Art Festival (Nepal), 2) 'grassroots' initiatives evolving
around urban planning, ecology and public as well as street art or inner-Asian art networks such as West Heavens in Shanghai (Oct 2010 -).
'Rethinking contemporaneity in art and anthropology' argues that visual and media anthropology's concepts and methods must be further challenged and fine-tuned, since they are still very much rooted in national boundaries and 'classical' notions of modernity and tradition, despite all the debates on globalisation's hybridisation or diversification of the world. But this project is also based on the proposition that an ethnography that emerges from a deep concern with transculturality as an empirical phenomenon and a heuristic concept, will be an important contribution to discussions around cultural practice and flexible citizenship (Ang 1999), public spheres and 'cosmopolitan aesthetics'. The data collected and explored come from the booming contemporary Indian art market and the international attention towards the Asian economies and creativities that, on the one hand, seem to shake established hegemonies of the western-dominated art market and its infrastructure, including artists, curators, collectors and art critics/historians. On the other hand, this project, on the basis of preliminary research conducted by the applicant currently on this topic, also proposes that these shifts do not really lead to a rethinking of established western canons, both among western and non-western agents. Instead, there is a stunning stickyness of reluctance to rethink - or even throw over board - concepts such as 'authenticity', 'originality', 'indigineity' and 'innovation' against what is still considered 'essential' to be of 'value' (Layton 1991, Morphy/Parkins 2006).
Art installations by Nepali artists Sanjeev Mahajan, Kirti Kaushal Joshi, in the back of Patan Museum, Lalitpur (2012)
a group of art students in front of their small gallery in Bhaktapur (2012)