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With his seminal essay ‘The artist as ethnographer?’, Hal Foster () put the. ‘ ethnographic turn’ in contemporary art high on the agenda of cultural studies. Reading: Hal Foster: The Artist as Ethnographer. Some Key Points: Assumption that the site of artistic transformation is the site of political. The Artist as Ethnographer? Hal Foster. I. THE ARTIST AS ETHNOGRAPHER? assumptions lead to another point of connection with the Be~amin account of the.

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Home Brief Timeline Panel Review. Secondly, the authority of the ethnographer is fraught with various forms of contestation as should be the artist engaged in social critique.

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Posted by Uditi Shah at Ibraaz 5th Anniversary Ibraaz. Bordering on documentary, but always infused with fictional elements, Tata’s representation of these people inscribes them within over-determined ideas of conspiracy, of which they claim no direct knowledge.

As such, she enumerates four key areas ripe for enquiry: Assumption that if the artist is not socially or culturally other – then he has limited access to this transformative alterity. In a recent copyright infringement case, the Tata Group sued Marhaba Tata for falsely associating himself with the industrial magnate, Ratan Tata, who runs the Tata Group. It goes beyond the so-called ‘ethnographic turn’ of much contemporary art and the ‘crisis of representation’ in anthropology, in productively exploring the implications of the new anthropology of the senses, and ethical issues, for future art-anthropology collaborations What are the results?

Shifting the frame of analysis to the sensory and affective registers of contemporary Arab art has radical implications.


Hal Foster’s now dated essay, ‘The Artist as Ethnogarpher, launches a powerful critique of artists whose art employs a ‘pseudoethnographic’ practice, but spares little ink in also condemning anthropologists with ‘artist-envy’.

After this encounter, Tata refused to take my calls and when I saw him at Al Madina Theatre he acted as if he had never met me. In the face of personal and communal suffering, media saturation, ideological machinations, historical density, and inaccessible lived experiences, neither art nor anthropology can hope to represent something as abstract as thee ‘Lebanese civil war’.

As such, this child remains a ghostly figure in Tata’s productions, only appearing in archival footage. Tata’s efforts to re-voice the American diplomatic missions in the region draws upon objects he found in the debris of the US embassy after it had been obliterated by a car bomb in Westmoreland are imaginary as are the conspiracies and structures of feeling that they inhabit.


Values like authenticity, originality, ethnograpger singularity, banished under critical taboo from post-modernist art, return as properties of the site, neighborhood or community engaged by the artist.

Views Read Edit View history. He fostef the rationale of this artisf, based on the notion of an addendum to a written document, as accentuating the idea of an afterthought.

It is particularly important to consider these new renderings of ‘reality’ in societies that have undergone forms of violence or trauma that undercut realist notions of truth and evidence.

Foster, “The Artist as Ethnographer” annotation by Brandon Hopkins

He posits that the site of political transformation is always perceived as being elsewhere, in the repressed other—for the modern artist in the proletariat, for the post-modern artist in the post-colonial, the subaltern, the subcultural—and that perception of this elsewhere is distorted by a realist assumption that the other has an authenticity lacking in the self and a primitivist assumption wherein there is a mapping over of the other, such that the here-and-now self is superior to the there-and-then other.

Assumption that the other is always outside and that this alterity is the fosrer point of subversion of dominant culture.

I later learned that he was telling people that the CIA, presumably referring to me, had interrogated him and demanded the return of the bag and its contents featured in his films.

Though these characters are my creation, the structures of feeling are not. Like the appended postscript to a letter, he told me, ‘an afterthought is a latent reverberation, something that occurs out of time, displaced from its originary instance…when afterthoughts can easily be edited into the body of the correspondence, the postscript serves a more nuanced function, one potentially against the grain of the preceding message’.

This article may be too technical for most readers to understand. But the subject of association has changed: When he learned my name, however, he became instantly excitable and seemed rather suspicious.

Collective: Reading: Hal Foster: The Artist as Ethnographer

Retrieved from ” https: Reflexivity, parody of primitivism, reversal of ethnological roles—subversions of the dominate culture—potentially release the artist from self-contradiction, ideological patronage, and cultural arrogance.


To do so would take for granted the various structures of legitimization that practitioners from the Middle East and across the global south must constantly negotiate in order to access the global art world.

Tata thus appropriates both the initials and the contents to utter a subversive afterthought from the rubble-reduced edifice of fostter American diplomatic mission. Accordingly, we can see Tata’s work as revisionary. Firstly, he suggests that these artists presume that ‘the site of artistic transformation fosteer the site of political transformation’, which presumes that the site of political transformation is ‘elsewhere’ among the ‘cultural other, the oppressed postcolonial, subaltern, or subcultural’.

Rather than focusing on ‘background’ dimensions of the art world, this intersection between art and anthropology addresses shared practices and methodologies. He re-enchants these found objects with subversive narratives about the politics of foreign intervention.

That is to that say that these media remnants exist as fossils, always decaying, but also always as an object that is simultaneously of the past and of the present. Monday, July 19, Reading: Over the years, the institution of art, could no longer be described simply in terms of physical space – studio, gallery, museum etc – it was a discursive network of other practices and institutions, other subjectivities and communities.

The interface between art practices and ethnographic enquiry provides a key site for apprehending the affective potential of ficto-criticism to momentarily crystallize these imaginaries.

Inscribed inside the bag is the name P. Refiguring Art and Anthropologyeds. This piece makes an inter-textual. Westmoreland’s belongings to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

And yet, the film removes the questions, thus eliminating the context for answers that at times seem confrontational and at other times nonsensical.

Du Zhenjun, The Tower of Babel: For critics, General Westmoreland is often accused of escalating the war in Vietnam under false pretenses.

In the rubble he found this bag containing a child’s memorabilia: Schneider, Arnd, and Wright, Christopher English ed. By re-enchanting these mimetic artefacts, Lebanese documentary experimentalists break through the blockages of amnesia, to see around representational eclipses, and rupture ossified narratives that reify violence.