What are the theoretical, practical and disciplinary implications of an epistemological reconsideration of anthropology of art? How does the redefinition of art within the larger framework of clinical anthropology challenges classical anthropological approaches of the artistic and the material.
This panel will discuss the disciplinary and practical challenges of a new epistemological approach to anthropology of art based on Jean Gagnepain's Theory of Mediation (ToM). By re-situating the anthropology of art within the unifying theoretical framework of a general anthropo-logy or human science based on clinical observations, the model redefines art (ars/techne) as an embodied rational process and analytically dissociates it from other rationalities, namely language, subjectivity and morality. Philippe Bruneau and Pierre-Yves Balut at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, developed the theory towards a new model described as an 'artistique générale' or a general theory of artistic/technical productions. Suitable in practical cross-disciplinary applications, scholars have applied this model in fields as varied as archeology, modern and contemporary art, material culture worldwide, as well as design and fashion. The panel will discuss the theoretical, clinical and epistemological dimensions of the Theory of Mediation, and showcase it's applications in various artistic realms. To what extent does this new definition alter our vision of the arts? How does this theoretical shift of paradigms - from an external material object of interaction to an internal mechanism of embodied reasoning - renegotiate the relationship between art and language, politics and morality respectively? Through various ethnographically and historically situated examples, the contributors to this interdisciplinary panel will discuss the practical implications of a clinical anthropology of art, and more broadly the theoretical assumptions of an epistemological approach to the anthropology of art.