Why I don’t like ‘art’

Pardon the clickbait title. Of course, as most people do, I appreciate the artworld, but in my capacity as an archaeologist I tend to avoid using the term ‘art’ when discussing ancient material remains.

Egyptians and their Heritage: The Broken Bond

The glamorous Golden Mummy Parade was held in April of this year in the streets of Cairo amidst extravagant celebrations, and well-choreographed and pre-recorded dance and musical shows. The whole event was made to celebrate the move of the 22 royal mummies from the old museum in Cairo, known as the Egyptian Museum, to the newly established Cairene National Museum of Egyptian Civilizations. The news of the parade reached several media outlets around the world instigating a multitude of reactions from individuals belonging to different social and cultural groups.

Playlist Convergence #5

Discover the fifth playlist by Objective Convergence, designed to bring you back in time with rock and soul tunes.
Featuring The Zombies, Shuggie Otis, The Monkees, and more.

On Authenticity: 50 ways to -not- understand it

As I spent the summer on one of those extremely touristy islands of the Mediterranean, I could not help but notice that stores and vendors would assail visitors from all sides with “local” “authentic” and “made here” slogans. It seems then that the tourists’ biggest concern is to leave with goods made by the proper hands of the locals. But is this really an authentic truth of one people whose memory we are trying to preserve, or is it a concentration of clichés corresponding to the idea we have of them? Are we being sold the “authentic” or a subterfuge? The question has been bothering me and led me to initiate a reflection on the notion of authenticity in art, a concept in permanent debate.

White Ornaments and Colored Butter: The Fate of a Form of Tibetan Monumental Sculpture

Many are familiar with Tibetan butter lamps, whose soft light brings out the golden faces of metal Buddhas and lamas from the darkness of a shrine. Less known, however, is the use of butter as a material for monumental sculpture as part of a long tradition in Tibet. Can these perishable images be displayed in museums, when their creation is linked to a precise context and their know-how is as admirable as it is little known?

Playlist Convergence #4

Discover the third playlist by Objective Convergence, designed for the late afternoon–or anytime of the day.
Featuring Captain Planet, Tshegue, Akkan, La Chica, and more.

The Ceramics of Lucy M. Lewis: Tradition and Innovation for an Ethical Collection

Lucy M. Lewis was a potter from the Acoma Pueblo (New Mexico) who took inspiration in archaeological ceramics which she adapted and reinterpreted. In doing so, she pioneered contemporary Acoma pottery. From museums throughout the United States to Obama’s Oval Office, Lucy M. Lewis’ work has been recognized and exhibited widely. Blending tradition and innovation, contemporary Acoma pottery can be seen as a substitute for the controversial display of archaeological ceramics which were looted from burials.

Slow Fashion in the Art Market

The Art market for the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas is going through a crisis due to a loss of confidence on the part of collectors. The origin of the buyer’s uncertainty is well known: worries about the provenance and acquisition history of the pieces, concerns about having to repatriate artworks, awareness of the risk of buying a fake, etc. Despite this difficult climate, some auction houses continue to break sales records in those fields. However, these records are almost only concentrated on well-defined types of objects, originating from few different cultures, well-known to collectors.

Teaching (Art History) During a Global Pandemic

Written back in mid-June as a review of nine months of remote teaching. As I finish grading the last exam from my students, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my experience teaching this year as a first-time TA, and through a pandemic no-less!

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