Dear Mylene,

I think that art is human expression and, as well, it reveal points of view, sensations, thoughts, from where and when it was realized... and affects us whith thaughts and feelings. In this way, in my poitn off view, it is a kind of anthropology. I´m a painter and video maker, and all the things I do, and all the thigs I see expresses a kind of leaving feelling.

Ariane Cole

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New to this group, and new to anthropology of art, but doing fieldwork at an Arts College in East Africa. Currently familiarizing myself with the theoretical discussions in this sub-discipline and having tremendous problems with the Western bias in definitions and conceptualizations of art.

When you write "My main argument in my thesis was, that, as "art" is a cultural domain of the "west", African Art is in fact an artefact of our society" I simply cannot agree. Not only does this view contradict the emic perspective of the African artists I am working with, but it carries political ramifications that I tend to think of in terms of re-colonialization.

I'd really appreciate more discussions on this topic...

Alexis Malefakis said:
Hi Mylene,
hi Ariane,

I wrote my MA thesis in ethnology about the "Appropriation of African Art in the West", a critical comment on our view of foreign artefacts as "art". Before i was working in the Museum für Völkerkunde München (Ethnographic Museum Munich) for 9 months, and curated an ethnographic section in an exhibition about "The Desert".
At the moment i am looking for a research theme for my dissertation. I am interested in the history of anthropological collections, the "biography" of things, cultural appropriation.
My main argument in my thesis was, that, as "art" is a cultural domain of the "west", African Art is in fact an artefact of our society. The objects labelled so have neither been produced as art, nor perceived as such in their respective societies of origin. The change of perspective in the west, starting with the belittling of foreign artefacts as material representations of "primitive" people, and leading to the "discovery" of the aesthetic aspects of "primitive art" in the early 20th century, has produced an art genre called African Art.

Isn´t that a starting point for an opening discussion?

best regards,
Dear All,

My interest in art and anthropology is projected through dance as an art form and indigenous expressions of art. Although, this was not the basis for my doctoral thesis, there are elements of this vis-a-vis the emotional textures of village life. However, I am drawn to this group from another perspective. I have a friend, who is a muralist, who takes social research methods and uses them to gather information about the social layers of various social issues--he has worked on Afro-Colombian displacement, Life in Brazilian Favelas, Post-conflict realities in El Salvador, Immigration in the US, Refugees and so forth.

Looking at his work, and recently engaging in discussions about a collaborative venture, got me to thinking about art and how I can become more engaged in dialogue about its importance to the development of anthropology itself (I recall reading my first anthropological study on art--that of Boas's Primitive Art).



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