Ken Lum, Professor and Chair of the Fine Arts Department at UPenn, is a CEE affiliated faculty member. He is also the co-founder of Monument Lab.
Monument Lab is a national public art and history project based in Philadelphia. Their goal is to critically engage the monuments we have inherited and unearth the next generation of monuments through stories of social justice and solidarity. They work with artists, activists, municipal agencies, and civic stakeholders on creative approaches to public art, history, and memory.
Through art exhibitions, participatory projects, a national fellows program, and a new website and podcast, Monument Lab is building research and creating conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments.
Monument Lab exhibition photos by: Steve Weinek Photo 1 - From first iteration and work of wooden benches and ‘blackboard’ by Terry Adkins. Photo 2 - Monument Lab Hub at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Photo 3 - Image of Emeka Ogboh installation on roof of the Free Library-work is titled “Logan Squared.” Photo 4 - Karyn Olivier’s installation titled The Battle is Joined. She covers up with mirrors the Battle of Germantown Memorial.
AAA 2018 Highlights
Special Guest Lecture featuring George Lucas and Dr. Deborah A. Thomas
This past week at the Hammer Theatre in San Jose, filmmaking icon George Lucas sat down for an engrossing chat with Dr. Deborah A. Thomas, the Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography and Professor of Anthropology. This surprise event was a highlight of this year’s AAA meeting in San Jose. Over the 1.5 hour long conversation, Deb engaged with George Lucas’s early film and writing projects through the lens of experimental ethnography, learning about Lucas’ prevailing interests in mythology and anthropologies of religion. George Lucas shared fresh context behind the writing of American film classics including American Graffitti, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones, as well shedding light on the futures of his new education-centric projects including The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and The George Lucas Educational Foundation. Stay tuned for a full write up on the event on the CEE website this coming week.
Photo by Alissa Jordan
Multimodal Anthropology recap by Alex Chen
Dr. John L. Jackson, Jr. and Dr. Deborah A. Thomas co-chaired an executive session of the American Anthropological Association Annual meeting on multimodal anthropology, which brought together a panel of experienced and emerging scholars whose fascinating experimental work spans everything from choreographed ritual art to 3D printed necklaces. Underpinning the group “provocation” on multimodality was the desire to create collaboration, space, and theory that engages with a world that is increasingly mediated by technology and social media. Working primarily in photography, Dr. Ruth Behar relayed a serendipitous story of how a photograph she took of an interlocutor 40 years ago ended up as a tattoo on the interlocutor’s grandson while Dr. Arjun Shankar theorized on the ideas of refusal and of listening to images taken by one’s interlocutor. Listening was taken up by Dr. Laura Kunreuther, who pointed us to the importance of digital infrastructures in enabling and limiting multimodality while revealing the heavy editing process that underlies the apparent transparency of sound recordings. Dr. Maryam Kashani took up video opacity as a way to assert sovereignty for Muslim American communities struggling under increasing encroachment by the surveillance state, while Dr. Deborah A. Thomas screened a film that mined the archive of drone surveillance footage in order to prompt an affective response against state violence.
Yet joy and hope can also spring from multimodality. Dr. Harjant Gill presented his collaboration with Indian NGOs to use Virtual Reality as a means to promote dialogue and empathy on critical issues of gender and sexuality. Dr. Aimee Cox showcased her collaborations with conceptual artists like Saya Woolfalk and Simone Leigh, including a ritual performance in Manhattan’s Fulton Center and Transit Station that brought attention to the solar, commercial, transit, and ancient spiritual energies that animate New York City as well as an installation called “Potted Woman” that interrogated the embodied experience of enclosure. Dr. Elizabeth Chin, taking on the provocation mantle, presented her work with students at the Laboratory for Speculative Ethnology – including a “hands up don’t shoot glove,” a beautifully sequined accessory that starts taking photographs for upload into the cloud as soon as the gesture is made – while donning a laboratory jumpsuit she fashioned from Dutch Wax Print fabrics from her collaborations in Uganda.
Bad Habitus recap by Alissa Jordan, PhD
In Friday morning’s roundtable, “Bad Habitus”, organizers Stephanie
Takargawa, Trudi Lynn Smith, and Kate Hennessy called into question the uncritical techno-centric habits that increasingly characterize the multimodal turn in anthropology. Coleman Nye (Simon Fraser University) described the experimental graphic novel ethnography that she built with collaborators over the past year, highlighting how visual mediums can be used to craft multilayered political and artistic citations. Yet, Nye and collaborators encountered numerous institutional barriers in attempting to fairly compensate participating artists using academic funds.
in conversation with John L. Jackson, Jr., Dean of Penn's School of Social Policy & Practice and Richard R. Perry Professor of Anthropology and Communication
Monday December 3, 2018
Rainey Auditorium Penn Museum
The evening will feature a 20-minute film excerpt of Massiah's new work-in-progress, The T.C.B. School of Organizing, a film that presents a biography of Toni Cade Bambara as a primer for social justice. The film will catalyze a conversation about using culture to organize community, and helping young activists to generate sustainable movements for social change, and this will be followed by a Q&A.
Graduate Student Project Funding
We will be releasing an announcement of graduate student project funding soon. Please be on the lookout for a call for proposals.
CEE Launch Party
Please save the date for our launch party, on February 15, 2019!