Accepted Paper:

Painting People as Part of Anthropology: Experimenting Practice in Public Settings  
Zoe Bray (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Paper short abstract:

This article reflects on my experiences, as both an anthropologist and a painter, of depicting the portraits of volunteer models, in various public settings, as part of a curatorial experiment on the process doing visual anthropology today.

Paper long abstract:

This article reflects on my experiences of painting the portraits of volunteer models, including other anthropologists, in various museum and other public settings. As a social anthropologist and a painter, I often paint the portraits of individuals whilst 'out in the field' as another way of doing ethnography. In the process, the model and I get to know each other better, and the portrait emerges as a collaboration, and as an alternative form of (visual) thick description. In recent years, I have demonstrated this pratice publicly, as a way to invite more people to directly witness the process of depicting a live human-being on canvas and think about its implications for anthropology. This article discusses these experiences in light of the current transformation of anthropology as a co-production of knowledge utilizing interdisciplinary approaches including art, and in the context of public settings, including museums displaying traditional and conventional representational forms. I reflect on how the experiment possibly emerges as an aesthetic performance in its own right, bringing the acts of doing anthropology and art together.

Panel P022
Doing, making, collaborating: art as anthropology