With his seminal essay ‘The artist as ethnographer?’, Hal Foster () put the. ‘ ethnographic turn’ in contemporary art high on the agenda of cultural studies. Reading: Hal Foster: The Artist as Ethnographer. Some Key Points: Assumption that the site of artistic transformation is the site of political. The Artist as Ethnographer? Hal Foster. I. THE ARTIST AS ETHNOGRAPHER? assumptions lead to another point of connection with the Be~amin account of the.

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Refiguring Art and Anthropologyeds. This piece makes an inter-textual. Each of which are also types of afterthoughts. Reflexivity, parody of primitivism, reversal of ethnological roles—subversions of the dominate culture—potentially release the artist from self-contradiction, ideological patronage, and cultural arrogance. Since the subjects of my research already scrutinize this problematic relationship, this endeavour aims to take ownership of fosher own troubling positionality, as an American researcher working in the Middle East, in order to redefine the terms of this scrutiny, and to open myself to my research subjects in a way that does not retreat into a confession of identity politics, but instead attempts to articulate the affective forces of doing fieldwork in a complicated political terrain and to think about fostter these forces crystallize in the making of particular ethnographic imaginaries.

University of California Press, For those artists who have appropriated ethnography within their practices, Foster’s critique is three-fold.

Variable dimensions, x cm, x cm. Hal Foster’s now dated essay, ‘The Artist as Ethnographer’, launches a powerful critique of artists whose art employs a ‘pseudoethnographic’ practice, but spares little ink in also condemning anthropologists with ‘artist-envy’. The Artist as Ethnographer. Tata locates the parents of P. Yet though the practice of self-othering is important to the critical practice of art, Forster warns it can lead to self-absorption, ethnographic self-fashioning, and narcissistic self-refurbishing.

Though this model is intended to undermine the authority of the anthropologist, it may actually reinforce it by positioning the anthropologist as the expert reader of culture-as-text.

As such, she enumerates four key areas ripe for enquiry: I later learned that he was telling people that the CIA, presumably referring to me, had interrogated him and demanded the return of the bag and its contents featured in his films.

Accordingly, we can see Tata’s work as revisionary. By re-enchanting these mimetic artefacts, Lebanese documentary experimentalists break through the blockages of amnesia, to see around representational eclipses, and rupture ossified narratives that reify violence.


It goes beyond the so-called ‘ethnographic turn’ of much contemporary art aas the ‘crisis of representation’ in anthropology, in productively exploring the implications of the new anthropology of the senses, and ethical issues, for future fostre collaborations Westmoreland’s belongings to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Foster, “The Artist as Ethnographer” annotation by Brandon Hopkins

When he learned my name, however, he became instantly excitable and seemed rather suspicious. Westmoreland as a child swept up into cosmopolitan geopolitics.

Though these characters are my creation, the structures of feeling are not. He explains the rationale of this project, based on the notion of an addendum to a written document, fostee accentuating thr idea of an arrist.

The first two initials of the bag’s owner clearly connect to Tata’s evocation of a postscript. He posits that the site of political transformation is always perceived as being elsewhere, in the repressed other—for the modern artist in the proletariat, for the post-modern artist in the post-colonial, the subaltern, the subcultural—and that thhe of this elsewhere is distorted by a realist assumption that the other has an authenticity lacking in the self and a primitivist assumption wherein there is a mapping over of the other, such that the here-and-now self is superior to the there-and-then other.

My narrative of the fictitious artist Marhaba Tata should help us begin to question this paradigm. Assumption that if the artist is not socially or culturally other – then he has limited access to this transformative alterity. Self-othering can easily pass into self-absorption. Assumption that the site of artistic transformation is the site of political transformation. Westmoreland’ – the figure he was supposedly investigating in ‘The Post Script Project’.

Transidioethnography – Wikipedia

Why this prestige of anthropology in contemporary art? Assumption that the other is always outside and that this alterity is the primary point of subversion of dominant culture. By now the reader should be rather suspect about ethnographee narrative and the accompanying documents referenced herein.

Rather than hsl on ‘background’ dimensions of the art world, this intersection between art and anthropology addresses shared practices and methodologies. Inscribed inside the bag is the name P. The artist must resist the tendency to project political truth onto this constructed other.

Firstly, Foster relies on an antiquated notion of ethnography that most anthropologists now ethnogralher scrutinize. Indeed, Marhaba Tata and P. To be clear, with this ficto-critical rendition I do not situate myself as an artist. I met with Marhaba Tata when I was doing my fieldwork in Beirut.


Views Read Edit View history. Home Brief Timeline Panel Review. As new forms of representation emerge with the increasing accessibility of digital media, especially in the hands of those dispossessed of their histories, traditions and land, we must continue to grapple with the role of media as an expressive tool in these contexts.

Effect artish projecting alterity; overlapping with our own unconscious. In a recent copyright infringement case, the Tata Group sued Marhaba Fosher for falsely associating himself with the industrial magnate, Ratan Tata, who runs the Tata Group. Over the years, the institution of art, could no longer be described simply in terms etbnographer physical space – studio, gallery, museum etc – it was a discursive network of other practices and institutions, other subjectivities and communities.

The space of this essay does not allow me to fully grapple with the nuances of Foster’s argument, however, a few comments are in order. Tata thus appropriates both the initials and the contents to utter a subversive afterthought from the rubble-reduced edifice of the American diplomatic mission.

Bordering on documentary, but always infused with fictional elements, Tata’s representation of these people inscribes them within over-determined ideas of conspiracy, of which they claim no direct knowledge.

Here, he confronts them about their past in an escalating series of interrogating interview questions. For many ethnorapher, like Walid Raad, Lamia Joreige, Jalal Toufic, Tony Chakar, among many others, their work conjures the impossible in order to undercut the taken-for-granted assumptions about representational possibilities.

He re-enchants these found objects with teh narratives about the politics of foreign intervention.


In order to demonstrate this, I want to engage here withthe oeuvre of a little-known experimental filmmaker working in Beirut who goes by the name of Marhaba Tata. Please help improve it to make it understandable to non-expertswithout removing the technical details. The courts identify Marhaba Tata as one ‘P. Firstly, he suggests that these artists presume that ‘the site of artistic transformation is the site of political transformation’, which presumes that the site of political transformation is ‘elsewhere’ among the ‘cultural other, the oppressed postcolonial, subaltern, or subcultural’.

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