Accepted paper:

Mounted by Orisa : Praxis and Representation of 'Outsider Artists' Personal Landscapes in Political Reality

Author:

Eni Bankole-Race (Royal College of Art)

Paper short abstract:

'Outsider art' perception, is literally in a world of its own. When anthropologists extrapolate from 'native art', whose perspective are they interrogating- the sanity of normality or the 'lunacy' of the inspired - those mounted by the Orisa with special sight into other dimensions.

Paper long abstract:

Artistic perception, especially that of makers of so-called 'outsider' art, is often literally in a world of its own. When anthropologists extrapolate from 'native art', whose perspective are they interrogating - the sanity of normality or the 'lunacy' of the inspired - those mounted by the Orisa who grant them special sight to see into other dimensions. Using ethnographic and auto-ethnographic research, this presentation explores the above question among others. According to the Yoruba, lunatics and all artists, irrespective of genre, are inspired if not possessed by Orisa, the goddesses and gods of the Yoruba pantheon. This 'possession' is what creates visionary, intentional art. Whether mounted by gods or beset by mental health issues, the outsider artist's sensibilities exhibit the fervour of inspiration in contrast to the placidity of 'reality'. The difference between art per se and art with intent - to exorcise one's demons, to reach rapprochement with them or to surmount them, thereby re-engaging with the politics of the 'real' world is that the intentionality generates agency. Art as therapy can inadvertently reveal much more than the artist intends while paradoxically, barring true understanding of their vision from the audience. How then is this interface/interaction negotiated? Does the artist have a further duty to interpret their vision or should the agency engendered by praxis suffice?

panel P094
Creative Art/Anthropology Praxis as Revelation and Resistance