Ethnographic Сonceptualism

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Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov


Ethnographic conceptualism refers to anthropology as a method of conceptual art but also, conversely, to the use of conceptual art as an anthropological research tool. Ethnographic conceptualism is ethnography conducted as conceptual art and conceptual art conducted as ethnography. The goal of this special issue is to introduce it as a concept and a method and to contextualize it in art and anthropology. Article contributions to this special issue do so by focusing on the following questions: What is gained by anthropology by explicitly bringing conceptualism into it? And, the other way around, what is gained by conceptualism when it is qualified as “ethnographic”? What is “ethnographic” about this kind of conceptualism? What is “conceptualist” about this kind of ethnography? This new way to bridge art and anthropology was developed during research and curatorial work on the exhibition Gifts to Soviet Leaders (Kremlin Museum, Moscow, 2006) and later discussed at the panel on ethnographic conceptualism at the meeting of the American Anthropological Association (Montréal, November 2011) and workshops on this theme at the Courtauld Institute for Art (London, January 2012) and the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (May 2012).


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