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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Nature, Culture, Chance: From Caduveo Body Painting to the Readymade

9th March 2007, 17:30 to 18:30, Elvet Riverside, room 142

The aim of this talk will be to explore some convergences between aesthetics and the anthropology of art, two disciplines often thought of as incompatible. Its impetus is the conviction that we have much to gain by a more systematic and concerted attempt at constituting an ethnoaesthetics. Dr Wiseman will take as his starting point Lévi-Strauss’s studies of Caduveo body painting and try to show how, beyond the clichés often repeated about structuralism, they provide valuable insights for an understanding of various forms of avant-garde art, from Duchamp’s readymades, to Anthony Caro’s abstract sculptures and assemblages by the Nouveau Réaliste artist Arman. Although these forms of art would constitute for Lévi-Strauss what he would call, pejoratively, an ‘academism of the signifier’, Dr Wiseman will argue, here, that Lévi-Strauss’s own theorisation of the relations between nature, culture and art enables us to see them, in at least one of their dimensions, as a prime example of the fulfilling of the mytho-poetic function.

Dr Wiseman studied in London at King’s College and the London School of Economics and in Paris at the Sorbonne Nouvelle and the École Normale Supérieure. He has been a lecturer in the French Department at Durham University since 1997. His research belongs in the area of contemporary French thought and is centrally concerned with various forms of interdisciplinary connections.

IAS Fellows' Public Lectures are free and open to all

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