Roger Sansi

The Anthropology of Art interest group within VANEASA was first launched in the last EASA biennial conference in Paris, 2012. We have had our first meeting in this last EASA biennial conference in Tallinn, 2014. We organised this meeting as a Lab (L200 Anthropologies of Art). The concept of the lab was to generate a group discussion on the objectives of the interest group. A central theme that emerged through our meeting is the uncertain processes of collaboration between art and anthropology. In the last years, many of the members of the interest group have witnessed and participated in many different processes of engagement, cross-fertilisation, and experimental practice between both fields. While these experiences have often been very productive, there is also a sense of frustration on the uncertain grounds of these processes, the misunderstandings on which sometimes they are based and the precariousness of their outcomes. Some anthropologists feel that the opening of anthropologists towards art has not been fully acknowledged by artists [1]. Conversely it has also been argued that the ethnographic turn in art practice hasn’t been fully acknowledged in art scholarship [2]. At this point, it may be interesting and even necessary to put together these experiences and discuss, which are the reasons for these misunderstandings? Which concepts are we putting in play in these processes? Are these the same concepts that are being used in other forms of practice? Are we using the same concepts in different ways? In fact, can these “misunderstandings” be productive, in making us look at these notions from a different perspective?

With this idea in mind, we generated a list of key recurrent concepts that are interesting precisely because of their ambiguity: notions of “method/work”, “research”, “creativity”, “participation/exclusion”, “institutions” and “archives”. The objective is not to produce definitions, but to engage with the questions and problems they have generated- encountering the concepts, as it were. Each concept will be addressed first by one or two members of the group, who will then open the room to discussion.

The workshop has been organised with the local research gorup GRAPA at the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. The first two sessions on June 10th will be lead by GRAPA and the languages will be Spanish and Catalan. The VANEASA workshop proper will take place the 11th and 12th and the main language will be English.

[1] Arnd Schneider (2012), “Art and Anthropology,” in R. Fardon et al., The Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology, Vol. 1. London: Sage

[2] Siegenthaler, F. (2013). “Towards an ethnographic turn in contemporary art scholarship”. Critical Arts, 27(6), 737-752.

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