Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Diary for September 13th - September 19th 2007

THURSDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER - Dreaming of Native America

It's been too long, so today I'm heading down to the October Gallery in central London to check out the 'Oshki-bawaajige - New Dreaming' exhibition that just launched there. It features the artwork of three Native American artists - father and son Frank Big Bear and Star Wallowing Bull, and Andrea Carlson - a lecturer from the University of Minnesota. They all descend from the Obijwe ancestry, and use their work to express and complicate over-simplistic representations of their community. The exhibition runs until October 27th and is open Tuesday to Saturday 12.30 - 17.30, with a series of linked events and screenings. Next Monday, for instance, at 18.30, there is a presentation evening by a panel of experts followed by a Q&A with the audience, for which entrance costs £6.

If you would like to find out more about Native America arts and anthropology, anthropologist Max Carocci is teaching an introductory evening course at London's Birbeck college next April called "Introduction to Native American Art." Max did his PhD at Goldsmiths on "Two-Spirits: Being Gay and Native American in San Francisco, California" and has also done a lot of research on both historical and contemporary Native American art. The course is a module of a Certificate in Higher Education on World Art and Artefacts but you can also take it as a one-0ff short course.

If you can't make it down to the gallery you could check out the website of Larry McNeil , a Tlingit artist/photographer I love and who won the 2006 AllRoads National Geography prize for his photo essay "Fly by night mythology" which plays with ideas of traditional/modern/nostalgia etc...

hand-colored black and white photograph, self protrait. Larry McNeil.

FRIDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER - Anthropology and divine inspiration

As I browsed the shelves of my local bookshop the other day, I noticed Gods Behaving Badly at number 19 on the bestseller list. It's written by Marie Phillips, who studied anthropology and then Visual Anthropology at university before working in television, and now as an author. The book tells the story of a group of Greek Gods living in North London and their humorous interactions with the mortal world. Marie says she drew heavily on her studies in anthropology in order to become an author, since both roles mean "you're constantly trying to put yourself in the position of someone who's different from you and to see the world in a different way". You can read more about how Marie combines anthropology and storytelling here, and also watch a film about the book here. You can get your copy, as they say, in all good bookshops.

SATURDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER - Unmasking slavery

On Saturday I'm off to to Bristol's City Museum and Art Gallery to take in the touring installation La Bouche du Roi ('The Mouth of the King') by West African artist Romauld Hamouzé from Benin (mentioned on the blog before). He has used 300 masks, made out of petrol cans, to create a representation of a slave ship. The work is meant to explore not only the history of the slave trade, but also the current black market in petrol in Benin. At noon, as part of a series of accompanying events, there's the opportunity to join Hazoumé for an hour-long tour of his work - it's FREE to attend, just turn up!

SUNDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER - The table-tennis of love...

Come Sunday, I want to watch the UK premiere of Ping-Pong d'Amour, a collaborative piece of film-making by a group of young German artists. Divided into three sections, the films promise to be an artistic cocktail of reflections on life in the contemporary, globalised world. Most interesting, perhaps, will be Part III, a series of six short films from around the world (places such as Togo, Cameroon and Syria) accompanied by artworks, that examine the 'ethnographic gaze', which means analysing how reliable the practice of understanding other cultures can be, coming from a western perspective. The films are showing at the Whitechapel Gallery all weekend, and you can book tickets for individual screenings (£5) or the whole day (£15). Of special interest to Anth about Town is the screening on Sundayof Les Maitre Fous by Jean Rouch, one of the most famous anthropological film-makers, who died in 2004. You can read all about his work and films here.

MONDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER - Weathering the storm

Pocketvisions returns tonight with 'Sunny Intervals and Showers', a film about how one family react when the father is diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, a form of manic depression. The film deals with the consequences of being labelled 'mentally ill' which is also a subject of interest to several anthropologists, who look at the ways in which different societies understand psychological problems. At UCL, you can study for an MSc in Culture and Mental Health, aimed at social workers who think the combination of psychiatry and social anthropology will be enable them to be more sensitive to their patients' needs. There are also several books that have been published on related issues, such as Pathologies of the West. The film starts at 19.00 at the Roxy Bar & Screen, and is followed by a Q&A with the director - entrance is FREE.

TUESDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER - Tribe goes to the Himalayas

This evening I'll be tuning in with great interest to the latest episode of TRIBE on BBC1. It is about the Layap people of Bhutan who live in the Himalayan mountains and are devout Buddhists. Interestingly, they are also known to practice polyandry -where a woman may have more than one husband. The film was directed by Gavin Searle, who studied the MA in Visual Anthropology at Manchester University before going on to work in television, so it should be fascinating to see how he's bridged the gap between the two disciplines.

WEDNESDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER - The history of 11 weeks

On Wednesday I want to look into a course that's about to begin on British documentary because some the documentaries they are looking at are by anthropologists, including Chronicle of a Summer by Jean Rouch (mentioned above). It's being run by the City Lit college in conjunction with the British Film Institute, and runs a weekly class on how documentary has reflected society from 1922 to the present day. At each session you watch a film from the BFI's archives, followed by discussion and also the opportunity to make your own one minute documentary on site. The The course starts on 26th September and runs from 18.40 for two hours every Wednesday evening, and only costs £32 if you are eligible for the concessionary rate! To enrol, call 020 7492 2652 or email as soon as possible.

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