The aim of this panel is to move the discussion forward on the relation between anthropology and art, by focusing more specifically on how ethnography is used as a political device in art interventions and art activism, and how art activism, practice and theory can inform anthropological practice.
At the dusk of the Enlightenment, Friedrich Schiller famously declared that we arrive at freedom through beauty. Inspired by Kant and the French Revolution, Schillers' aesthetic utopia starts from the notion that through the aesthetic judgment we learn to relate to objects in the world free of need and interest. Aesthetics is the foundation of an education into the 'common', as a transcendent goal that is not limited to individual will, passion, prejudice or need. The contemporary philosopher Jacques Rancière affirms that from the Enlightenment to contemporary artistic practices, art has consisted in constructing spaces and relations that reconfigure materially and symbolically the territory of the common. How can we address this "territory of the common"? Ethnography seems like as an obvious answer; there's nothing surprising in the popularity of ethnographic methods amongst contemporary artists. In this panel, we want to move forward the discussion on the relation between Anthropology and art practice, including politics into the equation. We want to focus more specifically on how ethnography is used as a political device in public art processes and art activism, and reciprocally, what can anthropologists learn from these artistic uses of ethnography. In spite of the reference to Rancière, this panel will not focus on this author; we want to invite papers on the ethnography of art projects in general, and contributions on how art activism, practice and theory can inform anthropological practice.