This panel brings together artists and social researchers to discuss the embodied, material and sensory dimensions of art practice and explore the potential for creative and theoretical synergies and collaborations between art and anthropology.
Material objects and the flesh have long been in the centre of creative practice, from traditional craftwork to contemporary performance art exploring and testing the boundaries of the human body. Anthropological engagement with folk and indigenous art has a history going back to the precursors of the discipline. More recently, anthropology's shift toward the senses, materiality, and corporeality was augmented and deepened by audio-visual and practice-based methodologies on one hand, and discussions grounded in phenomenology, actor-network theory and the debates invoked by the ontological turn on the other hand. This panel brings together artists, anthropologists and scholars combining practice and scientific research, coming from such diverse territories of intellectual and creative engagement. The aim is to think through art as a way of knowing, representing and evoking lived and imagined realities. It is also an opportunity to explore the epistemological potential of methods and collaborations crossing the disciplinary boundaries, particularly in the study of material and bodily phenomena. Hopefully, what emerges from this encounter is not just a deeper understanding of the place of bodies and things in art practice, but inspiration for rethinking the potential for combining art and anthropology in research and creative work. Despite the recent surge in theoretical reflection on such collaborations, the promises and limits of productive encounters between these two modes of engagement are far from being adequately explored and theorized.