10.10.2012 / Blurred Genres: Ethnography & Art

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
10am – 12pm
Board Room, SF Campus

Anthropologists and artists have borrowed techniques and theoretical approaches from each other since the beginning of the discipline of anthropology and from the inception of modern art at the beginning of the 20th century. These borrowings have intensified in the last decade with the “ethnographic turn” in contemporary art, and with the view of art as a form of research. At the same time, anthropologists are experimenting with techniques and theories of visual art to expand their audiences and also the scope of ethnographic knowledge. This forum will address some of the ramifications of these crossings from the perspectives of two anthropologists/artists whose works are rooted in these practices. Some of the issues, among others, that will be addressed are: the role of collaboration and participation in the creation of ethnographic based art, and the possibilities for the creation of different forms of knowledge, aesthetics, audiences, and social justice.

Lydia Nakashima Degarrod, Ph.D. is both a Chilean visual artist and a cultural anthropologist who creates installations that blur the line between ethnography and art in order to convey experiences of extraordinary nature and address issues of social justice. Since 1997, she has pioneered the creation of interdisciplinary projects that combine both visual art and cultural anthropology. In these projects, she has addressed a variety of subjects from visualizing the beauty of Mapuche heavens (Harvard University, 1997-8), the visual expressions of violence and injustice in an urban popular religion, the interactions of people and birds at Lake Merritt, and the internal images of exile. Her latest book Geographies of the Imagination: An Art Ethnography of Memories of Exile will be published by Routledge Press in 2013.

Fiamma Montezemolo is both a Cultural Anthropologist and an artist. As an established scholar in border and urban studies, she has patiently designed rigorous and long-term ethnographic-artistic interventions at the Tijuana-San Diego border where she has also resided and taught for many years. As an artist she situates her work as a critical extension and overcoming of the ethnographic turn in contemporary art during the 1990s. In addition to ethnography, she works with various media, including installation, cartography, video, digital photography, industrial materials, performance, archival documents. Her art practice straddles various disciplines, sensibilities and methodologies, including institutional critique, social art, and indigenous media.