Art and Anthropology
LATIN AMERICAN ART ENCOUNTERS ANTHROPOLOGY
The first large-scale encounter between art and anthropology, featuring
Latin American artists, took place at Rice University (Houston, Texas)
in the spring of 1997. The nine-week multimedia course, "Artists
in Trance", explored a variety of social issues in South
American and Caribbean countries and include art exhibitions and live
"Artists in Trance," a unique series of performance
lectures and events, ran from Jan. 15 to April 16, 1997, coordinated
by Abdel Hernández
The works of the 10 artists are charged with social energy. Visceral,
exhuberent and sometimes humorous, they express the concerns of communities
within Latin American cultures. The artistic performances will include
everything from an act of ventriloquism to a shamanistic trance.
What makes these artists "anthropological" is that they
use social dynamics as their primary materials. In the process they
become voices to the issues and problems facing the people in their
communities. In some instances they allow other members of the communities-including
those who are typically overlooked-to become their collaborators.
For example, artist Abdel Hernández (Cuba)
re-creates a Venezuelan marketplace which will be installed on the
Rice campus.("The Market From Here.") Before building the27-
by 27-foot, cross-shaped, covered marketplace, Hernández took
part in extensive dialogues with a variety of people who sell at Venezuelan
markets. Those dialogues became the basis for the artwork. One of
his conceptual collaborators was a man who's been selling bananas
there since the '40s.
Hernandez's work is not a replica of the South American market; he
has instead used his artistic imagination and anthropological perspective
to create something more epic and dramatic - a world with its own
brand of mystery and surprise. As Hernández suggests, "We're
teaching a parrot to say a phrase in English." For the building
of the marketplace creation he joined in partnership with the renowned
Venezuelan set and lighting designer Fernando Calzadilla.
Rice is a fitting location for the "Artists in Trance" non-credit
workshop lecture series because the university's Department of Anthropology
and the participating artists are champions of the same philosophy.
Beginning in the early '80s, George Marcus, department chair, and
other Rice anthropologists helped lead an ideological revolution which
challenged the basic anthropological approach to the study of culture.
The traditional anthropological view is that an anthropologist should
research another culture as a detached and neutral observer. However,
Marcus and others believe anthropology should be a more collaborative
endeavor in which the anthropologist and members of the community
create knowledge together. These Latin American artists are dedicated
to that same idea.
The "Artists in Trance" lectures are held each Wednesday
at 7 p.m. A different art exhibition and/or exhibition-performance
appears every 15 days. Lectures and exhibits are held in the Rice
Media Center and the Farish Gallery. Performances are at Hamman Hall.
Each lecture and exhibit is self-contained.
The course is offered by Rice's Department of Anthropology and the
Transart Foundation in Houston, with the participation of Rice's Department
of Art and Art History, the Rice Media Center and the School of Architecture.
The curators of the program are Abdel Hernández of Caracas
and Surpik Angelini of Houston.
Digital Cultures lab curator Johannes Birringer was part of the Artists
in Trance event as a film maker/documentarian; he also
collaborates with Abdel Hernández on the production of this
on-line publication of the critical writings of Hernández.
This library contains some unique writings on art and anthropology
published here the first time (in Spanish and English).One set of
writings belongs to the Artists in Trance Program (1997), and a newer
set of writings has been completed in 2006 and reflects Abdel Hernández
San Juan's current artistic and intellectual reflections.
by Abdel Hernández San Juan
1- Después de la etnometodología
2- Restitución de la Voz
3- El Eclipse de la Evocación
4- Imágenes de la Ciudad Melancólica: Lihie Talmor
5- Ricardo Benaim: Un Experimentalista Ingenioso
6- Las Imágenes Reminiscentes en Jacobo Borges
7- Ambientes Arcaicos: Johannes Birringer
8- Jóvenes Artistas Anglos
9- Artefactos Polisémicos: Phoebe Washburn y Stephanie Martz.
10- Atavismos de la Imagen: Cirenaica Moreira.
11-Metáforas de Procesos: Las Pinturas de Terrell James
12- Wendy Watriss: El Arte y la Ciudad
13- Inmateriales del Material: Lenguaje e Imagen en Luis Gómez.
14- Obicuidad Poética: Espiritualidad y Unicidad en Tania Brugueras
1- After Ethnomethodology.
2- Restitution of Voice.
3- The Eclipse of Evocation
4- Images of the Melancholic City: Lihie Talmor
5- The Ingenuityof an Experimentalist: Ricardo Benaim
6- Reminiscences of the Image: Jacobo Borges
7- Archaic Environments: Johannes Birringer
8- Young Contemporary Artists in the US
9- Polysemiotic Artefacts: Pohebe Washburn and Stephanie Martz
10- Atavismos de la Imagen: Cirenaica Moreira.
11- Metaphors of Process: The Paintings of Terrell James
12- Wendy Watriss: Art and the City
13- Immaterials of the material: Language and Image in Luis Gómez
14- Poetics of Ubiquity: Tania Burgueras
15 Between the Arts: Johannes Birringer