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Art as a type of knowing: an art-archaeology experiment

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  • UserDr Alana Jelinek, Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge and Prof David Gill, Professor of Archaeological Heritage, UCS
  • ClockThursday 08 November 2012, 17:30-19:00
  • HouseMacDonald Institute of Archaeological Research.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Alana Jelinek.

Artful Crafts

There is a history of modern and contemporary artists drawing on archaeology for inspiration. Artists have used archaeological methodologies, interrogated archaeological taxonomies and been inspired by archaeological finds.

Not praising, burying

This talk will describe a recent artwork, Not praising, burying, that took place over one day at the Fitzwilliam Museum. The artwork explored the idea of art practice as a type of knowing using Vickers and Gill’s Artful Crafts (1994) as its starting point. Initiated by Alana Jelinek, Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the artwork brought together a range of people, including archaeologists, artists, classicists, philosophers and art historians to interrogate ideas through art practice.

This talk will describe the processes involved in the artwork with some of its participants, and discuss similarities and differences in its reception across the various disciplinary expectations and mores.

Traditionally, universities like Cambridge and philosophers like John Dewey tended to reject the idea that art is type of knowledge, describing it as ‘far from being knowledge in any literal sense’. More recently this narrow idea of knowledge is contested: for example, Colin Renfrew argues that the task of archaeology is the same as reading contemporary art and there is an increased awareness across the social sciences of the potential of art practice methodologies for research.

Professor Colin Renfrew writes that, ‘Today the visual arts have transformed themselves into what might be described as a vast, uncoordinated yet somehow enormously effective research programme that looks critically at what we are and how we know what we are – at the foundations of knowledge and perception, and of the structures that modern societies have chosen to construct upon these foundations.’

In addition to a discussion about the type of knowledge art practice may produce for various disciplines, the discussion will also attempt to describe some of the pitfalls of inter-disciplinary working and particularly the problems with working through disciplinary assumptions about knowledge formation and methodologies.

This talk is part of the Creative Research at Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology series.

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