Art Right Now - Ethnography and Place in Contemporary Art
Paula Burleigh, teaching fellow, Whitney Museum of American Art
In 1996, the art historian Hal Foster published “The Artist as Ethnographer,” arguing that art had experienced an “ethnographic turn” whereby artists routinely adapted language and methods from anthropology to make representations of cultures and communities (usually not their own). Drawing upon recent trends in film, video, and performance-based work, this lecture reconsiders Foster’s ideas in relation to the contemporary art world, highlighting artists who engage themes of cultural representation, place-based identity, and cultural history in their practice. We will look at how artists try to negotiate the politics of representing communities and people, with the dangers of appropriation and fetishization. We will consider examples of artworks that challenge conventions of the travel narrative, the documentary film, and the interview, in order to move toward a model of art making that accords agency to both the artist-creator and the represented subject. Artists to be discussed include Paul Chan, Maya Stovall, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Sky Hopinka, and Tuan Andrew Nguyen, among others.
$15 door fee for guests and subscribers