film, photography and drama
postdoctoral research

You Turn Me: Similarities and differences between art and anthropology

  • Onderzoekers: An van. Dienderen
  • Promotoren: Hans Op De Beeck (School of Arts), Rik Pinxten (Ghent University, dept. of Cultural Sciences), Christel Stalpaert (Ghent University, dept. of Art, Music and Theatre Studies)

2008 – 2015

In 1995 Hal Foster introduced the concept “Ethnographic turn of contemporary art” in a seminal article entitled: “The Artist as Ethnographer?” (Foster 1995). Since the 90ies a challenging wave of art events occurred, which show significant similarities with anthropology in its theorizations of cultural difference and representational practices. However, I perceive a series of critique vis-à-vis the underlying neocolonial assumptions of these projects about the “other” (See Geertz 1988; Foster 1995; Irving 2006). My research will take this critique as a point of departure. I will concentrate on the “ethnographic turn of contemporary art” by criticizing the assumptions underlying the display of “alterity” and “outsiderness”, - with related concepts such as “authenticity”, “marginalization” and so forth, - hence questioning the relation of powers concealed in these art projects. Yet in contrast with the existing theoretical discourse my research will be conducted from the bottom up, by comparing art and anthropological practices, derived from my personal (field)work. During my investigation, the basic elements of ethnographic method will be employed: self-reflection, interaction, participation, feedback, contextualization,..

This (field)work consists of two artistic trajectories:

(1) Dog of Flanders: This research project examines the perception of Flanders in Japan, USA and Great Britain based on a 19th century novel,

(2) Scattering of the fragile cherry blossoms: is a long-term artistic research that deals with exoticism, resistance and decay among Japanese subculture, otaku. The quasi-invisibility of translation occupies a central place in this research. The content of both projects leads to the realization of cross-cultural and diverse forms: documentaries, short film / installation, publications (monographs, chapters in edited volumes and articles in international journals), postcards, photographic essays, exhibitions, and academic paper presentations. This postdoctoral project offers thus a visual study of a social intervention that emphasizes process rather than the final outcome as a research topic (van. Dienderen, 2008).

Research projects