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robertogreco : eurocentricity   2

How to make art that escapes the white gaze, according to The White Pube | Dazed
"In their latest Dazed column, your art agony aunts Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad grapple with a difficult question

20 February 2019
Text: Gabrielle de la Puente
Text: Zarina Muhammad

In their new Dazed Voices column, art writers and curators The White Pube answer your burning questions about the industry, in a way only they can.

Anonymous: I have a very personal question that may apply to other artists out there. As a British Indian, how do you stop your work looking so western? I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and looking at my work closely. It always ends up looking European, and I don't know how to get out of that loop so my work speaks a different cultural language, or is that not an issue I should be concerned with? I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

The White Pube: This feels like a timely question, between the Drama™ with Babbu the Painter’s latest IG posts, and this growing apathy/borderline anger towards Diaspora aesthetics - i feel like there is something brewing. So I am glad you asked!

I wana start by asking, like fr fr sincerely honestly, what does European art look like? that might sound facetious but i think it’s a necessary question to ask as a follow-up. In my mind, so much of what is so deeply coded as Western/ European art was robbed! Picasso robbed from ~African Art (a robbery so vague & essentialist that it rly can’t get any more specific in terminology than that), all of them really – Matisse, Braque, even Warhol. the pioneers of early abstraction were plundering the cultural depths of the-entire-continent-of-africa, and tbh wasn’t the exaggerated colour and transcendence of perspective in Fauvism something that artists across Asia had been doing for qWhite a while? Wasn’t Surrealism a poor substitute for Magical Realism (a Latin American movement)? (no one @ me about this, these r all my art history hot-takes & i refuse 2 google 2 confirm). I j wana take some time to poke a hole in that and for you do to the same bc i don’t think it’s honest to declare that an image looking Very Western is something that actually exists. imo, sounds like yet more gatekeeping from an academy w skin in the game.
"really stressed out about the number of white people making art about being white"

I think i know what you’re getting at though, and in my mind it’s not that you have something in mind so visibly Western, it’s that you want your work to look visibly Not-Western. And that’s where my bum starts to clench, and my palms sweat. Bc that feels like a rly difficult kind of Orientalism; representing the East through the lens of the West, or negatively defining the East by what the West is not. what kind of twisted inverted thing has happened there! how has the Coloniser got us so fucked up that we are unable to directly grasp the hands of our own aesthetic without reenacting the violence of our oppression also ??

And i think that, right there, that’s the difficulty of being an artist of colour trying to make art alongside the heavy weight of your own body & history. You lean in too far and u slip into essentialism; diaspora Art is damaging! a type of violence (as Babbu has proven) in and of itself. but you lean out, and you’ve been whitewashed. but I call BOLLOCKS, hit the bullshit button. i am sick and tired of this balancing act where quite frankly the goalposts for this spinchter of ‘acceptable aesthetic balance’ change every damn year. And I can tell you that WE are not the people defining this acceptability! it’s the MARKET! this aesthetic balance is defined by what SELLS. when i think of artists a few decades older than me, like Anish Kapoor or Mona Hatoum, who were knocking around in the 90s & 00s... like they weren’t making art about brown-ness at allllll. it was kinda passé, trite, a bit cooler to j Make like normal artists (normal being assimilated). Nothing wrong with it, it’s what sold at the time, and even if you weren’t selling, the stuff that does sell comes to define ~good taste~ anyway. Before that, round the 70s & 80s we had Rasheed Araeen, Chila Burman, artists who defined themselves as part of the Black Arts movement. They made art fiercely about identity and aesthetically reflected that.

“there are so many artists out there rn that are finding an aesthetic balance, defining and mediating a relationship between their bodies, their histories and the skins within their work. n managing to do so on their own terms” – The White Pube

Now things feel more slickly capitalistic... Babbu, Hatecopy, whose work really is tied again to selling; all the artists i wrote about in my text about the Problem with Diaspora Art... it makes me wonder, why is the sphincter of acceptability passing back towards reclamation? is it really about embracing our bindiwearing-foreheads, or is it about selling something ~exotic & ~cool to a white audience (whether they’re buying into it or not)? the market is deciding yet again. i want out of that back & forth, and tbh from your wording (from you saying you want ur work to speak a different cultural language) it sounds like you do too. i think the way to do that is not fucking concern urself with whether the work looks too Western/European. bc by doing so, all you do is create an image of what the Occident wants the Orient to be, rather than an image of what we really are in reality. take bits, make something of substance, with meaning, that you can really say with your chest. sth that comes from the very internal depths of your body. Don’t reduce ur art to the nearest binary or representational object, get rid of the representational object all together! don’t look to convey meaning through objects, look to convey through another vehicle altogether. Look to some artists that do that really well already: Imran Perretta, Rehana Zaman, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Alia Pathan, Hardeep Pandhal... n not just South Asian artists! look to the Black diaspora too: Evan Ifekoya, Arthur Jafa, tbh Grace Wales Bonner’s show at Serpentine atm, Paul Maheke, fuckin loads omg too many to name!

there are so many artists out there rn that are finding an aesthetic balance, defining and mediating a relationship between their bodies, their histories and the skins within their work. n managing to do so on their own terms. I beg u look to them. it’s a subtle balance & you must tread it yourself and figure out where the limit lies for you. Only when you put on those blinkers and dig from within will you be able to make something (aesthetically) that references what you want it to, without pandering to the white gaze. Good luck, I wish you well. <3"
gabrielledelapuente  zarinamuhammd  thewhitepube  art  whitegaze  thewest  picasso  appropriation  europe  eurocentricity  matisse  braque  andywarhol  urrelism  whiteness  orientalism  imranperretta  rehanazaman  michellewilliamsgamaker  aliapathan  hardeeppandhal  evanifekoya  arthurjafa  gracewalesbonner  paulmaheke  rasheedaraeen  chilaburman  babbuthepainter  2019 
april 2019 by robertogreco
When Scientists "Discover" What Indigenous People Have Known For Centuries | Science | Smithsonian
"Our knowledge of what animals do when humans aren’t around has steadily increased over the last 50 years. For example, we know now that animals use tools in their daily lives. Chimps use twigs to fish for termites; sea otters break open shellfish on rocks they selected; octopi carry coconut shell halves to later use as shelters. But the latest discovery has taken this assessment to new heights—literally.

A team of researchers led by Mark Bonta and Robert Gosford in northern Australia has documented kites and falcons, colloquially termed “firehawks,” intentionally carrying burning sticks to spread fire. While it has long been known that birds will take advantage of natural fires that cause insects, rodents and reptiles to flee and thus increase feeding opportunities, that they would intercede to spread fire to unburned locales is astounding.

It’s thus no surprise that this study has attracted great attention as it adds intentionality and planning to the repertoire of non-human use of tools. Previous accounts of avian use of fire have been dismissed or at least viewed with some skepticism.

But while new to Western science, the behaviors of the nighthawks have long been known to the Alawa, MalakMalak, Jawoyn and other Indigenous peoples of northern Australia whose ancestors occupied their lands for tens of thousands of years. Unlike most scientific studies, Bonta and Gosford’s team foregrounded their research in traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge. They also note that local awareness of the behavior of the firehawks is ingrained within some of their ceremonial practices, beliefs and creation accounts.

The worldwide attention given to the firehawks article provides an opportunity to explore the double standard that exists concerning the acceptance of Traditional Knowledge by practitioners of Western science.

Traditional Knowledge ranges from medicinal properties of plants and insights into the value of biological diversity to caribou migration patterns and the effects of intentional burning of the landscape to manage particular resources. Today, it’s become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, ethnobotanists, climatologists and others. For example, some climatology studies have incorporated Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) to explain changes in sea ice conditions observed over many generations.

Yet despite the wide acknowledgement of their demonstrated value, many scientists continue to have had an uneasy alliance with Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous oral histories.

On the one hand, these types of knowledge are valued when they support or supplements archaeological, or other scientific evidence. But when the situation is reversed—when Traditional Knowledge is seen to challenge scientific “truths —then its utility is questioned or dismissed as myth. Science is promoted as objective, quantifiable, and the foundation for “real” knowledge creation or evaluation while Traditional Knowledge may be seen as anecdotal, imprecise and unfamiliar in form.

Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world, past and present?

Ways of Knowing

There are many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.

For instance, in the past two decades, archaeologists and environmental scientists working in coastal British Columbia have come to recognize evidence of mariculture—the intentional management of marine resources—that pre-dates European settlement. Over the course of thousands of years, the ancestors of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other Indigenous groups there created and maintained what have become known as “clam gardens”—rock-walled, terrace-like constructions that provide ideal habit for butter clams and other edible shellfish.

To the Kwakwaka’wakw, these were known as loxiwey, according to Clan Chief Adam Dick (Kwaxsistalla) who has shared this term and his knowledge of the practice with researchers. As marine ecologist Amy Groesbeck and colleagues have demonstrated, these structures increase shellfish productivity and resource security significantly. This resource management strategy reflects a sophisticated body of ecological understanding and practice that predates modern management systems by millennia.

These published research studies now prove that Indigenous communities knew about mariculture for generations—but Western scientists never asked them about it before. Once tangible remains were detected, it was clear mariculture management was in use for thousands of years. There is a move underway by various Indigenous communities in the region to restore and recreate clam gardens and put them back into use.

A second example demonstrates how Indigenous oral histories correct inaccurate or incomplete historical accounts. There are significant differences between Lakota and Cheyenne accounts of what transpired at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) in 1876, and the historical accounts that appeared soon after the battle by white commentators.

The Lakota and Cheyenne can be considered more objective than white accounts of the battle that are tainted by Eurocentric bias. The ledger drawings of Red Horse, a Minneconjou Sioux participant in the battle, record precise details such as trooper’s uniforms, the location of wounds on horses, and the distribution of Indian and white casualties.

In 1984, a fire at the battleground revealed military artifacts and human remains that prompted archaeological excavations. What this work revealed was a new, more accurate history of the battle that validated many elements of the Native American oral histories and accompanying pictographs and drawings of the events. However, without the archaeological evidence, many historians gave limited credence to the accounts obtained from the participating Native American warriors.

Hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights. The travels of Glooscap, a major figure in Abenaki oral history and worldview, are found throughout the Mi’kmaw homeland of the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada. As a Transformer, Glooscap created many landscape features. Anthropologist Trudy Sable (Saint Mary’s University) has noted a significant degree of correlation between places named in Mi’kmaw legends and oral histories and recorded archaeological sites.

Opportunities at the Intersection

As ways of knowing, Western and Indigenous Knowledge share several important and fundamental attributes. Both are constantly verified through repetition and verification, inference and prediction, empirical observations and recognition of pattern events.

While some actions leave no physical evidence (e.g. clam cultivation), and some experiments can’t be replicated (e.g. cold fusion), in the case of Indigenous knowledge, the absence of “empirical evidence” can be damning in terms of wider acceptance.

Some types of Indigenous knowledge, however, simply fall outside the realm of prior Western understanding. In contrast to Western knowledge, which tends to be text-based, reductionist, hierarchical and dependent on categorization (putting things into categories), Indigenous science does not strive for a universal set of explanations but is particularistic in orientation and often contextual. This can be a boon to Western science: hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights.

There are partnerships developing worldwide with Indigenous knowledge holders and Western scientists working together. This includes Traditional Ecological Knowledge informing government policies on resource management in some instances. But it is nonetheless problematic when their knowledge, which has been dismissed for so long by so many, becomes a valuable data set or used selectively by academics and others.

To return to the firehawks example, one way to look at this is that the scientists confirmed what the Indigenous peoples have long known about the birds’ use of fire. Or we can say that the Western scientists finally caught up with Traditional Knowledge after several thousand years."

[See also:
"How Western science is finally catching up to Indigenous knowledge: Traditional knowledge has become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, climatologists and others"

"It’s taken thousands of years, but Western science is finally catching up to Traditional Knowledge" ]
science  indigenous  knowledge  archaeology  ecology  biology  climatology  climate  animals  nature  amygroesbeck  research  clams  butterclams  birds  morethanhuman  multispecies  knowing  scientism  anthropology  categorization  hierarchy  hawks  firehawks  fire  landscape  place  nativeamericans  eurocentricity  battleofgreasygrass  littlebighorn  adamdick  kwaxsistalla  clamgardens  shellfish  stewardship  inuit  australia  us  canada  markbonta  robertgosford  kites  falcons  trudysable  placenames  oralhistory  oralhistories  history  mariculture 
february 2018 by robertogreco

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