James Clifford: An informal conversation with Charlotte Townsend-Gault and Jennifer Kramer in front of Thliitsapilthim

Friday, January 22, 2010
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery
1825 Main Mall, UBC

RSVP – Register  This event is free of charge, but seating is limited. Attendees are required to register by Thursday, January 21 at 6:00 pm. To register please contact Naomi Sawada with your name and department: email: naomi.sawada@ubc.ca or tel: 604-822-3640

James Clifford has been one of the most influential scholars and critics of anthropology, art, and history since the late 1970s. His book, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature and Art published in 1988, challenged the conventions of these disciplines by offering new ways to understand the forces that shape cultures. Clifford’s recent work is concerned with the response of local politics to globalization and focuses on the effects of regional, national, and international power on the practice of museums, festivals, and the performance of traditional identities.

Join us at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery where the conversation will take place in front of Nuuchaanulth thliitsapilthim or ceremonial curtains that are currently presented in an exhibition that is curated by Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Backstory: Nuuchaanulth Ceremonial Curtains and the Work of Ki-ke-in. The Nuuchaanulth were the first people Europeans encountered at Yuquot in 1778 in what is now British Columbia, and this discussion is appropriate at a time when the province and the country is set to welcome the world.

Brief Biographies:

James Clifford was trained in social and intellectual history and received his PhD at Harvard University in 1977. He has been teaching at the University of California in Santa Cruz since 1978. He is currently a Professor in the Department of the History of Consciousness, has written extensively and has lectured in universities and cultural institutions in North America, Latin America, and Europe. Recent publications include: “Varieties of Indigenous Experience: Diasporas, Homelands, Sovereignties,” in “Indigenous Experience Today,” eds. Marisol de la Cadena and Orin Starn (Berg Publishing, forthcoming); Rearticulating Anthropology, in Unwrapping the Sacred Bundle: Reconfiguring the Discipline of Anthropology, eds. Daniel Segal and Sylvia Yanagisako. Duke University Press, 24-48 (2005); Looking Several Ways: Anthropology and Native Heritage in Alaska, Current Anthropology 45(1), 5-23, 26-28 (2004).

Charlotte Townsend-Gault is a Professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia and Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University College London. Her interest is in contemporary indigenous cultures and arts. Townsend-Gault was a curator of Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada (1992), Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun (1995) and Rebecca Belmore (2002) for the Belkin Art Gallery. She has written about the work of Marianne Nicholson, James Luna, Stan Douglas’ Nu.tka and is at work on a book, “Masked Relations: Display and Disguise on the Northwest Coast.” “The Idea of Northwest Coast Native Art: An Anthology,” co-edited with Jennifer Kramer and Ki-ke-in is forthcoming.

Jennifer Kramer holds a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and a Curator of Pacific Northwest at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. In her book, Switchbacks: Art, Ownership, and Nuxalk National Identity (UBC Press, 2006), she discusses the ways the Nuxalk of Bella Coola validate their contemporary identity by a fluid oscillation, a “switching back and forth” between their traditional cultural systems and the teaching of these through their educational curriculum, the production and sale of items that are made for the Western art market, and the Western legal system.

The UBC Curatorial Lecture Series presents lectures on contemporary curatorial practice. It is organized by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in collaboration with the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory; the Museum of Anthropology and the Department of Anthropology; with the support of the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies; and the Faculty of Arts at The University of British Columbia.

Image: “Naasḳuu-isaḳs Thliitsapiltthim”, 1993. Painted by Ḳi-ḳe-in. Keeper of the history: Naasḳuu-isaḳs, Shaunee Casavant. Photo courtesy of Naasḳuu-isaḳs, Shaunee Casavant.