World art and critical pedagogy 
Parul Dave Mukherji (School of Arts and Aesthetics)
Arts and Aesthetics Lecture Hall No. 003, SAA-II
Start time:
4 April, 2012 at 15:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

Intercultural engagements with world art studies and global art practices.

Long Abstract

This panel aims to generate dialogues between anthropologists, art historians, artists and museologists whose professional practice is shaped by the concepts of world art, global art or intercultural art. Participants should question whether these concepts exist in relation to creative, intellectual or institutional histories and mechanisms, and how these concepts become operative in diverse practices, including curating, art making and art writing. They will consider how their own approaches to research, public communication, teaching, translation and learning draw upon the current geopolitics and contribute to the field of critical pedagogy. Identifying ways in which individual, collective, social and political transformations generate opportunities for the emergence of new standpoints and critical positions, they will also reflect on the shared need to move beyond multiculturalism and to engage more critically with the question of cultural difference. Discussion on relational, southern, post-colonial, post-humanist, post-western, cosmopolitan and other related theories, such as world anthropologies, is prioritised. Participants should assess how such concepts and theories become frameworks for group learning, public outreach and critical pedagogy.

Accepted papers:


Nicola Levell (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the political and pedagogic agency of Haida-manga--a transpacific artform originated by the Haida artist and activist, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. Fusing traditional Haida aesthetics with Japanese-inspired manga, Haida-manga is a dynamic graphic idiom that circulates local indigenous epistemologies and parables to a global public.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on the work of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (MNY), an artist, political activist and satirist, who self-identifies as the 'Haida-manga guy'. An artist of native Northwest Coast and European settler ancestry, MNY has developed Haida-manga, a distinctive and dynamic artform that draws on his intangible cultural heritage to engage with contemporary issues of indigenous rights, environmental exploitation and ecological devastation. Through transculturating Haida formlines and oral histories, with manga, the Japanese genre of graphic illustration, Haida-manga operates as a hybrid idiom or creative creole that invigorates Haida art, extending it beyond the neo-traditional media and forms, like figurative sculptures and masks that dominate the local field of production. An indigenized form of pop art, Haida-manga explodes the traditional canon of indigenous Northwest Coast art and its technologies of reproduction, which enables Haida epistemologies, oral histories and cautionary tales to circulate within and beyond indigenous, local and generational spheres of exchange. Looking at the expansion of Haida art through manga, this paper examines how indigenous aesthetics and ways of knowing are being mobilized as a form of eco-global, native and intercultural activism. It critically charts the development of Haida-manga as a politicized graphic art form that was initially embraced by manga aficionados in Asia and elsewhere, before modulating into multimedia artworks. No longer restricted to the medium of paper, Haida-manga as a critical art practice is now circulating in multimedia productions, from painted canvases, through short animations to recycled automobile parts, which are found in diverse spaces, from private collections, through virtual domains to public museums.


Sria Chatterjee (Oxford University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the problem of representation in nineteenth century maritime India. It questions the category of portraiture as a universal, as understood by the traditional art historical canon, further pointing to a rethinking of a global art history as a multi-sited historiography of art.

Paper long abstract:

Using as case study, a collection of nineteenth century clay figures from Krishnanagar, India at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, USA, this paper approaches the question of a global art with a view of retrospective historical narrative and contemporary methods. In considering the commission and collecting of these clay figures as tangible by-products of the Indo-American relationship between traders in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, I address processes of commodity production , consumption, gift-giving, and the flows of knowledge, technologies, and materials both within local contexts and through the intercontinental networks that linked them. In exploring the nature of representation in this variable climate of artistic patronage, I question the predetermined status of the category of the portrait in art history.

Dismantling the essentialist hierarchy of ideas and values as in the case of colonial discourse, a dialogic engagement allows for copresence and multiple presences in moments and spaces of cultural interaction. While suggesting that categories such as 'the portrait' cannot be thought of as a universal concept in a global history of art, I point to an interdisciplinary turn between the history of art and cultural anthropology to suggest a new historiography of art. Keen to explore the possibilities of a global history of art, I suggest a multi-sited historiography that allows for a multi-lateral history. Using the object as central to historical analysis, I consider historical narrative as assemblage, which in its multiplicity acts on semiotic flows, material flows and social flows simultaneously.