HAL FOSTER THE ARTIST AS ETHNOGRAPHER PDF

Hal F0. There, under the influence of Berthold Brecht and Russian revolutionary culture, Benjamin called on the artist on the left "to side with the proletariat. For Benjamin urged the "advanced" artist to intervene, like the revolutionary worker, in the means of artistic production-to change the "techniques" of traditional media, to transform the "apparatus" of bourgeois culture. A correct "tendency" was not enough that was to assume a place "beside the proletariat. The object of contestation remains, at least in part, the bourgeois institution of autonomous art, its exclusionary definitions of art, audience, identity.

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Hal F0. There, under the influence of Berthold Brecht and Russian revolutionary culture, Benjamin called on the artist on the left "to side with the proletariat. For Benjamin urged the "advanced" artist to intervene, like the revolutionary worker, in the means of artistic production-to change the "techniques" of traditional media, to transform the "apparatus" of bourgeois culture.

A correct "tendency" was not enough that was to assume a place "beside the proletariat. The object of contestation remains, at least in part, the bourgeois institution of autonomous art, its exclusionary definitions of art, audience, identity. First, there is the assumption that the site of artistic transformation is the site ofpolitical transformation, and, more, that this site is always located ebmhm, in the field of the other: in the productivist model, with the social other, the exploited proletariat; in the quasi-anthropological model, with the cultural other, the oppressed postcolonial, subaltern, or subcultural.

Second, there is the assumption that this other is always ouMe, and, more, that this alterity is the primary point of subversion of dominant culture. Taken together, these three A strict postsmcturalist would question it for the opposite reason: because it dms not displace this productivist problematic enough, that is, because it tends to preserve its s t r u m of the politicd-to retain the notion of a subject of history, to define this position in terms of truth, and to.

But I do dispute the automatic coding of apparent Werence as manifest identity and of otherness as outsideness. This coding has long enabled a cultural politics of mzrgiwlip. Today, however, it may disable a cultural politics of tinmmmce, and this politics may well be more pertinent to a postcolonial situation of muItinational capitalism in which geopolitical models of center and periphery no longer hold.

In different ways both movements connected the mansgressive potentiality of the unconscious with the radical alterity of the cultural other. And yet, both movements came to be limited by this wry primitivist association. In quasi-anthropological art today this primitivist fantasy is only residual. What I mean is simpler than it sounds. Just as the productivist sought to stand in the reality of the proIetariat only in part ta sit in the place of the patron, so the quasi-anthropological artist today may seek to work with sited communities with the best motives of political engagement and institutional transgression, only in part to have this work recoded by its sponsors as social outreach, economic development,public relations.

This is not the facile complaint of persond co-option or institutional recuperation:that the artist is onIy tactical in a careerist sense, or that the museum and the HAL FOSTER medm absorb everything in pure malevolence indeed we know they cannot.

And second, since it is in part a projection, this outside is not other in any simple sense. Let me take these two problems one at a time.

First, the assumption of outsideness. If it is t r u e that we live today in a near-global economy, then a pure outside can no Ionger be presupposed. This recognition does not totalize the world system; instead, it specifies resistance to it as an immanent relation rather than a transcendental one. As this alterity becomes aiways imbricated with our own unconscious, its eEect may be to "other" the selfmore than to "selw" the other.

Now it may be, as many critics claim today, that this self-othering is crucial ta a revised understanding of anthropoIogy and politics alike; or, more circumspectly, that in conjunctures such as the surrealist one the tmping of anthropology as auta-analysis as in Leiris or social critigue as in Baraille is culturally mnsgessive, even politically signifcant.

But there are obvious dangers here as well. Who in the academy or the art world has not witnessed these new forms ofjclnh? What has happened here? What misrecogmitions have passed between anthropology and art and other discourses? One can point to a whole circuit of projections and reflections over the last decade at least. Rarely does this projection stop there, in anthrw pology and art,or, for that matter, in cultural studies or new historicism. Often it extends to the object of these investigations, the cultural other, who also reflects an ideal image of the anthropobgist, artist, critic, or historian.

But they did so openly; current critics of anthropology persist in this projection, only they call it demystification. Here as well they share this envy with critics, especially in cultural studies and new historicism, who assume the role of ethnographer, usualIy in disguised form-the cdtural-studies ethnographer dressed down as a fellow fan for reasons of political solidarity-but with what social anxieties!

But what is particular about the present bun? Third, ethnography is considered cotttr? For all these reasons rogue investigations of anthropology, like queer critiques of psychoanalysis, possess vanguard status today it is along these lines that the critical edge is felt to cut most incisively. This turn to the ethnographic, it is important to see, is not only an external seduction; it is also driven by forces immanent to advanced art, at least in AngloAmerican metrapoles, forces 1 can only sketch here.

Nor could the observer of art be delimited only phenomenologically: he or she was also a social subject defined in various 1anguag. Of course these recognitions were not strictly i n t m a i to art. Mw crucial were dserent socia1 movements feminism above all as well as diverse theoretical developments theconvergence of feminism, psychoanalysis, and fdm; the recovery of Gramsci; the application ofAlthusser; the influence of Foucault; and so on , The important point is that art thus passed into the expanded field ofculture chat anthropology is thought to survey.

And what are the results? One is that the ethnographic mapping of a given institution or a related community is a primary form that site-specific art now assumes. This is all to the good, but it is important to remember that these pseudoethpographic critiques are very ofien commissioned, indeed franchised. Jmt as appropriation art became an aesthetic genre, new site-specific werk threatens to. This is an irony i d e the institution; other ironies arise as sites p c s c work is sponsored mhde the institution, otten In collaboration with local p u p s.

Here, values Gke authenticity, originality, and singularity, banished under critical taboo from postmodernist art, return as properties of the site, neighborhood, or community engaged by the a h t. I am not entirely cynical about these developments. Some artists have used these opportunities to collaborate with communities innevatively:for instance, to recover suppressed histories that are sited in p a r d c u h ways, that am accessed by some more effedveIy than others.

But I am skeptical about the a c t s of the pseudoethnographic role set up for the artkt or assumed by hhim or her. For this setup can promote a presumption of ethnographic authority as much as a questioning of it, an evasion of institutional critique as often as an elaboration of it.

Consider this scenario, a caricature, I admit. He or she is flown into town in order to engage the community targeted for collaboration by the institution. However, there is little time or money for much interaction with the community which tends to be consbcaed as readymade for representation.

Few of the principles of the ethnographc participant-observer are observed, let alone critiqued. And despite the best intentions of the artist, only limited engagement of the sited other is effected. Almost naturally the focus wanders from collaborative investigation to "ethnographic self-fashioning," in which the artist is not decentered so much a s the other is fashioned in artistic guise.

The other i admired as one who plays with representation, subverts gender, and so on. In alI these ways the artist, critic, or hitorian projects his or her practice onto the field of the other, where it is wad not onIy as authentically indigenous but as innovatively political! Of course, h s is an exaggeration, and the application of these methods has illuminated much.

But it h also obfiterated much in the field of the other, and in its very name. T h b is the opposite of a critique of ethnographic authority, indeed the opposite of ethnographic method, at least a? I understand them. And this "impossible place" has become a common occupation of artists, critics, and historians alike. This danger may deepen rather than diminish for the artist perceived to be other, for he or she may be asked to assume the role of native informant as well.

Incidentally, the charge of "ideological patronage" should not be conflated with "the indignity of speaking for others. See Foucault rgog. Tkis position is advanced in an early text by the figure who later epitomized the contrary position. This is why revolutionary language proper cannot be m y h cal.

I[I 19fz , 4. This fantasy also operated in the productivist model to the extent that the proletariat was often seen as "primitive" in this sense too. For a related discussion of these problems, see Foster It is in this sense that critics like Homi Bhabha have dweloped such notions as "third spaces" and deferred times.

This source points to a commodity between the critique of ethnography in new anthropology and the critique of history in new historicism on which more below. See, for example,Jean Jamin and Denis Hollier Incidentally, this artist-envy is not unique to new anthropology. It w a s at work, for example, in the rhetorical analysis of historical discourse initiated in the s.

First some anthropologists adapted textual methods from literary criticism. Now some literary critics respond with pseudoethnographies of literary culhres.

In the process some historians feel squeezed on both sides. In a sense, the d i q m of these two human sciences is as fundamental to posmodern discourse as the eEahmahn of them was to modern discourse. Louis Althusser rggo:g? There Kwon suggea that such neighborhood place is posed against urban space as difference against sameness.

She also suggests that artists are associated with places in a way that connects identity politics and site-specific practice-the authenticity of the one being invoked to bolster the authenticity of the other. In this project, the neo-conceptud duo Glem and G u m asked the Unit6 inhabitants to contribute favorite cassettes toward the production of a discothtque.

The tapes were then edited, compiled, and dispiayed according to apariment and floor. The sociological condescension in this facilitated self-representation is extraordinary. Annette Lavers. New York: H i l l and Wang. Benedict, Ruth Partepnr of Cuhre. Peter Demetz, trans. EdmundJephcott, pp. York: Harcourt Brace. Hannah h n d t , trans. Hany Zohn, pp. York: Schmken Rooks. Paris: Droz. Cambridge, Mass. Foucault, Micbel.

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The Return of the Real

The object of contestation remains, at least in part, the bourgeois institution of autonomous art, its exclusionary definitions of art, audience, identity. As a fellow anthropologist, I want to suggest another area of enquiry, which is concerned with ethnographic aesthetics and affective modes of knowledge production, an area of theory that visual anthropologists, ethnomusicologists and anthropologists of the senses and the body have been developing in recent years. Anthropologists Arnd Schneider and Christopher Wright argue that anthropology needs to critically engage with artistic practices that draw on material and sensual registers rather than only textual ones. These contemporary art practices provide means for apprehending the performative aspects of quotidian experience, embodied meaning, affective intensity, and agency of objects and images. These are ideas that are likewise central to anthropological understanding.

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The object of contestation remains, at least in part, the bourgeois institution of autonomous art, its exclusionary definitions of art, audience, identity. Login to My Account Register. That is to that hal foster artist as ethnographer that these media remnants exist as fossils, always decaying, but also always as an object that is simultaneously of the past and of the present. These contemporary art practices provide means for apprehending the performative aspects of quotidian experience, embodied meaning, affective intensity, and agency of objects and images.

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HAL FOSTER THE ARTIST AS ETHNOGRAPHER PDF

Assumption that the other is always outside and that this alterity is the primary point of subversion of dominant culture. Assumption that if the artist is not socially or culturally other - then he has limited access to this transformative alterity. The danger: ideological patronage. Marxist: this quasi-anthropological paradigm in art tends to displace the problematic of class and capitalist exploitation with that of race and colonialist expression.

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HAL FOSTER ARTIST AS ETHNOGRAPHER EBOOK

Thomas Crow Robert Lehman Professor of History of Art, Yale University The compelling analyses in The Return of the Real make clear that Hal Foster is one of the few contemporary critics who cinsistently asks and thinks through the most probing questions about the turbulent intersection of late 20th Century art, cultural theory, and global capitalism, and who keenly knows that the answers to them can never be reassuring or fashionable affirmations but rather new and disquieting questions. No one has more skillfully mapped the resulting spatial displacements and temporal heterogeneities than Hal Foster. Lively and accessible in style, theoretically astute and politically engaged, The Return of the Real is a model of cultural criticism at its most incisive. Martin Jay Professor, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley Hal foster has written a well-argued account of contemporary art practices and issues that is unique in its perceptive assessment of the very recent past. Foster has the capacity - rare in historians - achieving a critical and crucial distance from that work which affects him most immediately.

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