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Events by Anthropology and the Arts Network (ANTART)

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The Trouble with Art - 2019 ANTART Meeting

The 2019 Symposium of the Anthropology and the Arts EASA Network (ANTART) took place from 21-22 September 2019 at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage at the Institute of European Ethnology of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin under the title THE TROUBLE WITH ART. Philistinism, Iconoclasm, and Skepticism of Art in Anthropology. It was funded by EASA and CARMAH, with kind support of CARMAH staff.

Art has always occupied an ambivalent position in anthropology; it has been subject to both fascination and scepticism. Alfred Gell went as far as positing that anthropology is essentially anti-art, advocating instead a ‘methodological philistinism’ and ‘resolute indifference’ in our study of modern and contemporary art. Aesthetics has often been questioned as a Western, Bourgeois construct. The anthropology of art historically departed from this paradoxical, iconoclastic rejection of art practice and in particular, art theory. In this workshop, we explored the foundations of the iconoclastic ethos of anthropology, and sought to reassess the role of art within the discipline. What is the trouble with art in anthropology? Our aim was to examine how the anthropology of art can be re-founded, from a paradoxical sub-field, to a contribution to the theoretical problems of anthropology, and a critical discipline of contemporary societies.

In three panels, one roundtable, one performance intervention, and a gallery visit, panelists and speakers problematised the role of art in anthropology, as well as anthropology’s ‘philistine protocols’. It was discussed how and to what extent iconoclasm is both a subject of anthropology as well as of artistic practices; and how or in what sense skepticism towards and in art can be mobilized as a generative way to think about the future of the field of art no longer as a subfield, but a central concern for anthropology.

More information, photos, and recordings from the event will be made available on the CARMAH website and on the network page: http://www.carmah.berlin/events/easa-antart-2019/

The meeting also concluded in discussions about the future of the network, in particular the hand-over of its convening team. Roger Sansi (Barcelona) and Jonas Tinius (Berlin), who had been convening the network since its founding in 2017 will be passing on the convening role to two teams of four convenors who will be responsible for the network in the coming years. Roger and Jonas will remain affiliated with the convening teams, and pass over to the teams for the new year (2020).

Full programme and abstracts herePDF


Panel: Tinius, Jonas (convenor): The Future of Anthropological Representation: Contemporary Art and/in the Ethnographic Museum: The Future of Anthropological Representation.
Panel at Royal Anthropological Institute Major Conference ‘Art, Materiality, and Representation’, British Museum/SOAS, London/UK. 1-3 June 2018.


Workshop: ‘Art and Alterity: Anthropological Perspectives’. Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH), Institute of European Ethnology, Berlin/Germany, 13-14 September 2018.


Summer School: ‘Ethnography of the Arts / Art of Ethnography'. Summer School at Villa Arson, jointly organised by FU Berlin and Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, Nice/France. 17-24 September 2017


Ethnographies of Curating/the Curatorial (Margareta von Oswald, Christine Gerbich, Franka Schneider, Anna Schäffler, Jonas Tinius). Faculty Seminar, Department of European Ethnology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin/Germany. 13 December 2016. 


Reviewer meets reviewed PDF (Anthropology, Art, and the gift - Roger Sansi and Jonas Tinius). Seminar at the British Museum, organised by the Royal Anthropological Institute, London/UK. 17 November 2016.


Contemporary Anthropologies of Art Workshop. Convened by Alex Flynn and Jonas Tinius, Department of Anthropology, University of Durham/UK. 8 September 2015. Keynote: Prof Arnd Schneider (Anthropology, Oslo).


Encountering Concepts in Art and Anthropology, Workshop at the Universitat de Barcelona/Spain, 11-12 June 2015. Download report PDF


Anthropologies of Art Lab (L200), EASA Conference, Tallinn/Estonia, 3 August 2014.


Relational Patrons: Perspectives on intimate and transnational art collaborations (Panel, convened by Alex Flynn and Jonas Tinius). European Association of Social Anthropology Conference 2014. Talinn/Estonia, 2 August 2014.