Accepted Paper:

Curation and Art Exhibition: Anthropological Knowledge(s) within an Ethnographic Reflection  


Gabrielle Barkess-Kerr (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

I will consider the implication of the notions of art and knowledge production centered upon curators, as it reflects and engages with anthropology as a discipline, in both theory and practice. This will be engaged with in a microcosm of cultural and social exchange, encompassed in art exhibition.

Paper long abstract:

"Art must be difficult because being human is difficult. This is how you get a wider audience to look at art. Much more structural than fun." Lisa Le Feuvre (The Henry Moore Foundation, 2016).

I will demonstrate how generative material practice and curatorial approach can be used as a tool of anthropological analysis. I will detail my fieldwork and resultant ethnography on 'The Cyphers' exhibition (Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, no date, a), curator Alessandro Vincentelli (Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, no date, b), 'The Body Extended: Sculpture and Prosthetics' exhibition (Henry Moore Institute, 2016), and 'Head of Sculpture Studies' curator Lisa Le Feuvre at the Henry Moore Institute (The Henry Moore Foundation, 2016).

I will account for knowledge production in relation to exhibition, wherein curators demonstrate that they do not adhere to incapacious or straight-lined perspectives, which can be used to comment upon how we might move forward with anthropology as a discipline in its relationship with art.

This will consist of three elements: 1) the presence of 'questions' and relationships that have permeated the contemporary field of anthropology and 'art' (Canclini, 2014, p.28); 2) the value of ethnography; and 3) disciplinary identity.

Friedman asserts that; 'Art is as free as science in its ability to fix its gaze on any aspect of the world' in which case I would argue that the eye is consistently flicking and art exhibition is the 'gaze' (2006, p.174) of people with legs with which to run in every direction.

Panel P109
Curating with an Anthropological Approach