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Accepted Paper:

Performative formations: engendering art and anthropology in a Delhi gallery  
Anna Laine

Paper long abstract:

This presentation reflects on an exhibition, staged in Delhi during March 2009. The exhibition was situated in the overlap between art and anthropology. Using various materials such as text and video, it investigated how the use of visual/practice based methods and presentations affect the production of anthropological knowledge. The project involved two artists and myself (in the role of both artist and anthropologist). The initiative grew from our shared interest in making the patterns in the context of the kolam practices in South India. The two year process leading up to the exhibition raised a number of differences in terms of anthropological/artistic understanding, which were explored and discussed in relation to the common ground otherwise established between us. In the gallery, the completed art works presented these explorations through out three diverse but deliberately coordinated and site-specific ways of aesthetic expression.

Issues of power were foregrounded by bringing together a self-taught South Indian artist defined as a maker of craft and excluded from her local art scene; a Swedish artist trained and acknowledged in the Western institutionalized art scene; and a Swedish anthropologist-artist straddling the borders between social and artistic research. Additionally, we were all women and by some expected to belong to a shared category of female identity. Delhi was chosen for the exhibition as it was an unfamiliar place to all of the participants. We attempted to engender a contact zone, a third space, in the gallery, where preconceived categories could be de- and re-constructed on equal terms.

Panel W077
Public anthropology for a world in crisis
  Session 1