Accepted paper:

The woolen blanket and its value(s)


Fiona P. McDonald (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

Through a case study of three contemporary artists from Canada, the United States, and Aotearoa New Zealand, this presentation looks at how woollen blankets made in the UK since the seventeenth century have been sublimated and/or transformed into works of art and how this process generates knowledge and forwards theories about value and materiality.

Paper long abstract:

The sublimation and transformation of mundane material goods for aesthetics ends gives objects renewed meaning in varied contexts. The resulting shift in value(s) of objects can vary and as such generate social networks and dialogues that address the materiality of memory. Through a case study of three contemporary artists working with woollen blankets in Canada, the USA, and New Zealand, this paper will trace out how material culture that is fraught with a colonial legacy has flowed from England throughout the empire and in to the home and then to the gallery today. This discussion will look critically at how material culture enables theories of value, ownership, and identity to be considered from both aesthetic and anthropological lenses.

panel P26
Anthropology in the material world