Archive | Art, Literature and Poetry

Occasional Paper 6: Destructivistas

Joel Cahen (2012, revised 2016)

With our present day awareness, the arts as we have known them up to now appear to us in general to be fakes fitted out with a tremendous affectation. Let us take leave of these piles of counterfeit objects on the altars, in the palaces, in the salons and the antique shops. They are an illusion with which, by human hand and by way of fraud, materials such as print, pieces of cloth, metals, clay or marble are loaded with false significance, so that, instead of just presenting their own material self, they take on the appearance of something else. Under the cloak of intellectual aim, the materials have been completely murdered and can no longer speak to us.

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Object Lessons: the story of material education in eight chapters

Press release:

Duration: September 16, 2016 – January 16, 2017
Opening: Thursday, September 15, 7 p.m.

Milanese Mosaic Pastes, Cabinet of Factory Products, c. 1800, Collection Technical Museum Vienna, Photo: A.-S. Lehmann / Jars From a Teaching Aid Kit On Paper Fabrication, Lehrmittel-Verlag F. Rausch c. 1920, Collection Werkbundarchiv, Photo: A. Herrmann
If you know how to fabricate a candle from fat or a pen from a fishbone, you can survive in prison. If you know how blood reacts to lemon juice, you can remove stains. If you know why polylactide is more sustainable than polyethylene, you can change the world.

Today, knowledge about materials, their origins, and processing is more valued and desired than ever before. At the same time, such knowledge is specialized, concealed, and the domain of experts.

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Things that Make Us

Via The Institute of Making

Zoe Laughlin of UCL’s Institute of Making has a new podcast, Things That Make Us. Following the model of Desert Island Discs, each week, Laughlin interviews someone asking them to chose five things that they feel have shaped and moulded their lives and practice. The first two weeks interview the artist, Cornelia Parker, and food critic and journalist, Jay Rayner.

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Care on Display

Via Gabriela Nicolescu, Goldsmiths College
Thursday 23 June 2016 06:30pm – 08:30pm,

Film screening and discussion

Care on Display

Care on Display brings together documentary and artistic films by anthropologists interested in the subject of care for the elderly and for people suffering from dementia. The screenings, which will be followed by a discussion, aim to investigate how films explore notions of access and visibility of ‘care’ as ethical concerns and the intersection between care in the context of material and visual culture and care for the elderly as a subject to be put on display.  How to make visible something which is so private and very often perceived as immaterial?

This film series is conceived to continue a seminar series that Dr Gabriela Nicolescu organised in Goldsmiths, Economies of Care and Social Reproduction, in the autumn of 2015, with support from both Goldsmiths and the Wellcome Trust.

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Broken Stories

Adam Drazin, UCL Anthropology

How, when and why do people start to see something as”broken”? Do objects around the home just have two states, broken and working, or are there many other kinds of states they can be in? Clearly, the significance of many domestic objects is in relation to the projects of home which surround them and preoccupy the groups of people living together in a household. In some ways, household things are materialisations of projects, and ideas of being broken and fixed express this.

The Broken Stories project involved a group of Masters students on the UCL course Materials/Anthropology/Design at UCL working with Fixperts on issues of what kinds of fixing happen in the home, and what kinds of situations the Fixperts might get involved in.…

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Austerity Bites: Food Stories from Lewisham

Via Gabriela Nicolescu, Goldsmiths

Exhibition organised by the Goldsmith’sDepartment of Anthropology

Venue: Weston Atrium, Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Private View: 24th May, 17.30 
Dates: 25th May – 6th of June 
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 9.00-21.00

The exhibition presents the result of our ethnographic project Austerity Bites conducted by the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The exhibition is based on an extensive phase of interviews, workshops, collections of objects and artefacts and interactions with different groups of local residents, to hear their stories, talk about their routines, and discuss the many meanings of everyday food consumption for these residents of Lewisham.   The London Borough of Lewisham is one of the most culturally diverse but also one of the most deprived areas of London and has been particularly affected by the politics of austerity that have compounded the effects of a deep economic recession. …

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The Absent Stone

Sandra Rozental, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Cuajimalpa,
Mexico City
La Replica
The Absent Stone (2013) is a documentary film that combines contemporary ethnographic filmmaking, animation and a wide range of found footage and archival visual materials to tell the story of the largest single-stone sculpture in the Americas, and how it was transported from a village in the Texcoco area to one of Mexico City’s busiest streets. In 1964, the sculpture, which archaeologists believe to be a pre-Columbian rain deity, was forcefully removed from Coatlinchan following military intervention. Using national patrimony laws to justify the extraction, the state repurposed the 167-ton carving as a monument marking the entrance of the newly-built National Anthropology Museum. The engineers and architects in charge of the feat were stunned when the sculpture’s arrival resulted in one of the most abundant rainfalls the city has ever seen during its alleged dry season.…
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The Anti-Camera

Christopher Pinney, UCL Anthropology

I recently came across M.N. Srinivas’ observation that his enthusiastic engagement with photography, during his fieldwork in Mysore in the late 1940s, earned him the nickname “chamara man”. He notes that in Kannada chamara denotes whisks made of the long hair from a yak’s tails used by servants to keep flies away from Rajas and by priests to preserve the purity of icons.

In the Madhya Pradesh village where I have worked intermittently since 1982 you will hear echoes of the metaphor that informs the South Indian description of Srinivas as “chamara man”. For instance, Jagdish Sharma, the pujari of the Krishna temple once joked that my video camera embodied “yantra, mantra, [and] tantra”, yantra being the design (“made in Japan”), mantra being the information it stored, and tantra being the magic of technology (its “mashinari”).…

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The Story of Seething & being a little bit Stupid

David Jeevendrampillai, UCL Anthropology

Image 1: The Story of Seething Exhibition. Jan - May 2015. UCL Anthropology (Photo Credit: Timothy Carroll).

Image 1: The Story of Seething Exhibition. Jan – May 2015. UCL Anthropology (Photo Credit: Timothy Carroll).

UCL promotes itself as a leading global university and frequently ranks amongst the top institutions in the world; it also houses the UK’s largest Anthropology department. The department has an international reputation as a leader in Anthropological research with a particular history and strength in material culture studies. Upon entering the department’s central London campus one is greeted by a reception replete with well-lit display cases which house exhibitions of current UCL research and items from the extensive and rich Ethnographic Collection.

In the final months of writing my PhD I was invited to organise an exhibition using the three main cabinets in the foyer of the department.…

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Landmarks: a review

Christopher Tilley, Department of Anthropology, University College London (c.tilley@ucl.ac.uk)

 

Robert Macfarlane Landmarks (2015) London: Hamish Hamilton, 387pp. £20.00 rrp

This is the fifth book by Macfarlane about British landscapes. The ‘landmarks’ of the title are not what one might expect: they are words. The book is about the power of words in place making. This reminds us that landscapes may be material topographic realities but they are simultaneously constituted in the mind. Traditionally, in academic debates, landscapes have been regarded as either reductively shaping the manner in which people think or blank slates on which people inscribe the way in which they think in more or less any way they like. In this respect their material topographies become mere backdrops to an understanding of the manner in which they are understood.…

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