Anthropology museums remain arenas of contestation, and contemporary art presents itself as an agitation or even irritation that seeks a response. This panel seeks to encourage dialogue on contemporary art and anthropology through an examination of recent exhibitions and projects.
"Classic anthropological sites becoming sites of contemporary art is a grey zone, and a challenging proposition to accept." These are the words of Dana Claxton, an interdisciplinary artist, educator and Lakota woman, articulated in 2010. Her sentiments resonate with those expressed by other contemporary artists, who refuse to work with or have their works displayed in anthropology museums because they are perceived as spaces of segregation, rather than contact zones, with dark colonial pasts, where 'ethnic', international or world arts are placed apart. Unquestionably, anthropology museums remain arenas of contestation, still grappling with ideas of decolonization through the politics and poetics of display. Since the early 1980s, contemporary art and artists have entered into this fray, inserting other voices, media and counterpoints into the anthropological frame. In parallel, curators and artists have engaged with different aspects of anthropology in the process of making exhibitions in art museums. In these differentiated exhibition sites, the convergence of contemporary art and anthropology can be seen to challenge disciplinary prejudices such as the dominant discourse of indigeneity with its focus on contemporary 'indigenous' art. Rather than creating a permanent grey zone, contemporary art in such cases presents itself as an agitation or even irritation that seeks a response. This panel seeks to encourage dialogue on contemporary art and anthropology through an examination of recent exhibitions and projects.