Accepted Paper:

Ritual complexity and ambivalent figuration in Huichol art  


Johannes Neurath (Museo Nacional de Antropología)

Paper short abstract:

The coexistence of contradictory or mutually incompatible relations in all Huichol rituals obliges defining their ontology as complex, non-unitary and syncopated. Here we explore the implications of this situation for understanding the complexity of figuration in Huichol contemporary art.

Paper long abstract:

In order to understand the materials, style and figuration employed in the contemporary artistic expressions of the Huichol Indians (Wixaritari) of western Mexico, and to determine whether such emergent art forms are related to "traditional" ritual art, I consider the complexity of ritual relations. The problematic articulation of such contradictory relations precludes any attempt to hypothesize models of socio-cosmic wholes. Extending the notion of dividuality, we should instead consider the existence of "syncopated" worlds (following Roy Wagner). Aesthetically, Huichol yarn painting expresses just this, and therefore can be seen as a reflection on traditional knowledge-practice and initiation.

Panel W053
Shifting ontologies and contingent agencies