Tag Archives: craft

CFP: Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, Issue: Treasures of the Sea

Deadline: Oct 31, 2016

We invite all members of the global medieval academic community to submit original manuscripts for the FIFTH issue of Espacio, Tiempo y Forma. Serie VII. Historia del Arte, New Era. Submissions in English are welcome for the themed dossier. The deadline for submissions is October 31, 2016.

THEMED DOSSIER: “Treasures of the Sea: Art Before Craft?” by Avinoam Shalem

“Treasures of the Sea: Art Before Craft?” is the title of the themed volume for the fifth issue of the journal that has recently entered a New Era. It will be guest-edited by Avinoam Shalem, Professor of the Arts of Islam at the Columbia University of New York, who has proposed the following thematic framework for this special issue:

Questions about identities of patrons and artisans, including even therole of artifacts in supporting and reinforcing such identities—in short, the politics of visual cultures—seem to have dominated scholarly investigations in the field of art history. “Art comes before gold and gems, the author before everything,” claims a twelfth century inscription on a shrine commissioned by Henri of Blois and manufactured by a Mosan goldsmith; “The workmanship surpassed the material,” declared Abbot Suger famously in his ‘De Administratione’—both clearly suggesting a medieval hierarchy for the state of materials vis-à-vis craftsmanship. “Treasures of the Sea: Art Before Craft,” aims at reconsidering and perhaps even challenging this presupposition by focusing on the exploitation of the varied treasures of the sea, their artistic use and reuse, in the medieval and early modern eras (between circa 300-1400) in both the Christian and Muslim worlds.

The sea, like an embryo or a foetus, seems to represent “a sort of first stage in the advancement of superior life forms.” Its fluid character suggests an early age of our world’s foundation, before fluid turns to stone. It appears as an archaic cosmos into which one descends in order to find hidden treasures in its depths. How did artisans work, shape, and integrate the varied materials of the sea into an artistic oeuvre? Which meanings were attached to these materials? When, how and why were the materials’ fluid origin remembered?

This volume will consider original papers that address the subject: “Treasures of the Sea: Art Before Craft?” We welcome contributions that investigate artistic engagement with the varied materials of the sea. These include precious materials like pearls; coral; amber; tortoiseshell; mother of pearl; crocodile skin; narwhal, walrus and fish teeth; ambergris; etc. Other contributions that concern medieval depictions of mythical sea creatures or discussing medieval stories about legendary sunken treasures will be welcomed too.

Contributions can focus on a particular example or discuss a group of objects. They should engage in rethinking ‘Art before Craft?’ and the artistic strategies of the cultivation of these materials. Proposals will be evaluated and accepted according to quality, but also spread and variety.

Once you have registered and consulted the submission guidelines, please send your proposal on the online journal platform: http://revistas.uned.es/index.php/ETFVII/index

If you have any enquiries, please contact the journal editor, Inmaculada Vivas, serie7.revista-etf@geo.uned.es; for queries regarding the e-platform, contact Jesús López, revista-etf@geo.uned.es

Call for Papers: ‘Shared Invention: From Antiquity to the 21st Century’ (Clermont-Ferrand, Aubusson and Limoges, 6–8 April 2016)

issue_91_2015_news03[1]An international colloquium entitled ‘Shared Invention: From Antiquity to the 21st Century’ will be held 6–8 April 2016, and proposals for papers are now being accepted. The colloquium is being organized by Laurence Riviale and Jean-François Luneau, lecturers at Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand (France), in partnership with Musée national Adrien Dubouché, Limoges (France) and Cité de la Tapisserie, Aubusson (France). It will take place in Clermont-Ferrand, Aubusson and Limoges. ‘Shared invention’, or collective creation, is the chosen theme for this international colloquium, whose aim is to enable art historians working in a range of fields to understand better creation in the fine arts and production in the decorative arts.

When an artist’s work of art is translated into another medium, if the craftsman is not himself the inventor, but only a docile workman, how can differences in two items made by two craftsmen according to the same design be accounted for, but by a margin of liberty and sensitivity in which the very personality of the maker expresses itself? This margin will be at the heart of the debate, taking into account historical, social, and cultural contexts of all the periods in question.

After the Middle Ages, during which painters and sculptors belonged to a regular, legally instituted trade, those whom we now denote ‘artists’ tried to distinguish themselves by invention, leaving execution or transposition to craftsmen, and strove to elevate their trades to the dignity of liberal arts. For Giorgio Vasari, such a claim is satisfied by the expression ‘arts of design’, which were to become the ‘fine arts’, that is, painting, architecture and sculpture. ‘Design’ thereby has became the discriminating point for all academies that were subsequently founded, from the Accademia delle arti del disegno in Florence (1563) to the French Académie royale (1648), and later on, the British Royal Academy (1768). Art historians have seldom questioned this hierarchy and have more readily studied the creations of a ‘genius’, leaving the craftsman’s production in the shadow.

But is invention only the privilege of the artist who provides the design? Recent scholarly studies have striven to understand the processes of creation at the heart of workshops through artistic documentation, such as the miscellanies of modelli and inventories of human positions collected by painters in the sixteenth century, revealing the almost universal use of what has been called, paradoxically, the ‘invention copy’ – that is, the creation of a new composition achieved by putting together heterodox bits from everywhere. This type of process highlights the role of the patron, who may be the true inventor, as he owns designs and ideas and is responsible for this aspect of the composition from beginning to end. In this case, the so-called ‘artist’ is but a kind of go-between, and can only be understood as a mere workman.

Papers devoted to etchings or engravings, stone masonry, wall-painting or paper, furnishing or fashion fabrics, chinaware, stoneware, stained glass, etc., are welcome, especially if they emphasize not only the margin of liberty mentioned above, but also the aspects of works of art appropriate to their destination and intended meaning. Summaries of 2500 or 3000 characters will be submitted, along with a short CV (three lines), before 22 June 2015, to laurence [dot] RIVIALE [at] univ-bpclermont [dot] fr, or laurence [dot] riviale [at] orange [dot] fr, or J-Francois [dot] LUNEAU [at] univ-bpclermont [dot] fr. Applicants will receive a reply in September 2015.

Languages: French, English (there will be no interpreters).

Call for Applications: Reading Craft: Itineraries of Culture, Knowledge and Power in the Global Ecumene

bamboo-constructor2Five days of interactive “Summer School” training 
Reading Craft: Itineraries of Culture, Knowledge and Power in the Global Ecumene

The Summer Programme on “Reading Craft in the Long Global Ecumene” is meant for PhD Students. This means that we do not accept students other than PhD researchers.

To apply for participation in the Summer School 2014, please fill in the Application form. Registration closes Friday 14 February 2014, 9.00 am CET.

The IIAS Summer School at Chiang Mai will focus on the theoretical issue of the knowledge production, transmission and practice of culture against the backdrop of historically contingent case studies featuring transnational circulations of craft. Cartographies, itineraries and biographies of craft are windows into craft-scapes which, much like Barbara Bender’s work on landscapes, are discursively constructed, disputed, worked upon from disparate frames of value and meaning, and used to accomplish goals pertaining to identity, heritage politics, knowledge and power. 

The Summer School is an occasion to problematize conceptions of culture articulated through readings of craft across territorial boundaries, temporal episodes and knowledge categories. Alternative readings of craft seek to challenge place-based rootedness of culture in colonial ‘cryptocolonial’ (Herzfeld) and postcolonial constructions in order to emphasize its circulation in global interactions and trajectories. Focusing on ‘social lives’ (Appadurai) or ‘cultural biographies’ (Kopytoff) through records of journeys undertaken and routes charted by the movement of individuals, materials, techniques, recipes, designs and objects within and across diverse epistemic regimes and contexts would allow us to ‘read’ craft from a global perspective.

There is a need for what Françoise Vergès, calls an ‘alternate cartography’, tracing the material lives and unexpected contributions of ‘the people without history’ in Eric Wolfe’s words – anonymous slaves, refugees, exiles, spies, servants and artisans, in colonial and postcolonial historiographies. Locating craft within global networks of power and knowledge at the Chiang Mai Summer School would not only help to recover subaltern micro-histories but also focus our attention upon counter hegemonic appropriations of materials, techniques, recipes, designs and objects over the long globalization. Engaging with the ‘epistemic travels’ and ‘itineraries’ of such knowledge, according to Pamela H. Smith, would expose those readings of craft which anticipated the construction of new regimes and hierarchies of intellectual authority since the beginning of the modern world. Identifying the shifting agents and sites through which craft as a discourse of culture is formulated and sanctioned in late capitalism would, moreover, spotlight the ways in which practitioners of craft are drawn into what Michael Herzfeld refers to as the ‘global hierarchy of value’.

Conversations at the Chiang Mai Summer School will revolve around critical reflections on craft in Asian contexts around the following sub-themes among others:

  • Craft as a knowledge system, and knowledge practices of craft since the early modern era
  • Circulation of craft in Eurasian networks of trade, power and cultural exchange
  • Craft as postcolonial and crypto-colonial national heritage
  • The production and reproduction of hierarchies of gender, class and race through craft – identity contestations
  • Interrogating the “what” of craft: disputes over origin, ownership, authenticity, aesthetics, ethics and representation
  • Engaging with the Local/Global dichotomy through the lens of craft

The Summer School, which will also include some hands-on experience with local artisans, therefore encourages participants whose work seeks to engage with the history and politics of craft through its reading within the long and global mobilities of science, technology, art and fashion.

Francoise VergesPamela Smith and Aarti Kawlra will lead the Summer School with Michael Herzfeld as guest co-convenor and Chayan Vaddhanaphuti as host co-convenor. Together they bring to the School a rich mixture of intellectual perspectives and individual trajectories to facilitate discussions with research students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds in an atmosphere of openness and inquiry. Exposure to various craft discourses and practices (indigo dyeing, hand-weaving and bamboo architecture among others) prevailing in the culturally vibrant context of Chiang Mai will provide an unprecedented learning experience for the participants. The conjunction of field work with classroom exercises at the Summer School will, moreover, help them as they pursue their own research projects, to elicit and develop new theoretical paradigms of craft informed by case studies from various contexts in Asia and elsewhere.

For further information visit the website.