The Poetics and Politics of ‘Anonymous’ Contemporary Craft
Is anonymity in conditions of artisanal production counterintuitive to our understanding of contemporary craft? The great majority of recent exhibitions and publications about modern and contemporary craft cite artistry that has a known provenance, mainly comprised of identified individual authors. Is the monographic study of individual genius, a convention established by Vasari in the Renaissance, still helpful or a hindrance, and does that model serve the meanings of pottery, weaving, or cast metals, where workshops of dozens (or hundreds) are the longer historical tradition? If one of the strengths of craft history has been an expansive view beyond the traditional art historical canon and an inclusion of women’s work and indigenous making, a recurring weakness has been its paternalistic attitudes towards marginalized and underrepresented cultures. For instance, a craft museum recently exhibited 20th-century metalwork as “anonymous African jewelry,” a shorthan d that normatizes three problematic terms in one fell swoop. This session seeks papers on anonymous artisans which go beyond the insider/outsider duality and which strive for taxonomies with more nuance than ‘folk,’ and especially welcomes field work that strays into complex manufacturing or collective production as well as case studies that “look at what the practitioners do” (Geertz, 1973).
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Posted: July 6, 2017
Tagged: Calls for Papers