Explain the different contexts selecting one case from the early 20th century and one contemporary performance event
The exhibition of human beings has been a part of cultural life in many Western countries. In particular, this phenomenon has been observed since the late nineteenth century when more attention was paid to different cultures that could be marginalized in the past (Braverman 73). For example, one can speak about the World Fairs that took place in Europe and the United States. Secondly, it is critical to discuss a variety of modern performances that challenge many of the existing stereotypes. First, it should be noted that the early World Fairs were organized at a time when colonialism was a part of the official policies and ideology in many countries. Moreover, racism profoundly affected public opinion and attitudes of many people. It is one of the reasons why the representatives of racial minorities could be displayed at such events.
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In turn, some visitors from such exhibitions could treat these people as inferiors or even sub-humans. It is one of the issues that should not be overlooked. Nevertheless, for some people, such exhibitions could offer opportunities to learn more about different cultures. For instance, one can mention the World Fair that took place in St. Louis (Braverman 73). The visitors could look at Native Americas who wore their traditional dress. Similar exhibitions were held in Paris and London. The representatives of colonies could often take part in human exhibitions. For example, during the 1900 World Fair, the guests could look at people from Madagascar (Braverman 73). The main problem is that many of them could be viewed only as objects of curiosity. To some degree, they were dehumanized for the sake of entertaining viewers. It is one of the reasons why the term human zoo could often be used. In addition to that, such events were supposed to confirm many of the racial stereotypes. These are some of the main objectives that the organizers tried to achieve.
In contrast, contemporary exhibitions of human beings are held at a time when more and more people lays stress on the need for cultural, ethnic, or racial diversity. Secondly, they emphasize the necessity to respect the cultural heritage of different people. To some degree, such exhibits are supposed to help people express their identity. Moreover, they are meant to increase people’s awareness of different cultures and traditions. For example, one can mention the performance of Native American dances at Anoka High School in 2012. It is possible to say that this performance enabled students to get a better idea about the culture of these people. Moreover, they could become more aware of cultural diversity in America. Overall, they are essential for understanding art, which has been studied during this course. In particular, they help people appreciate art forms that do not belong to the mainstream culture. It is one of the details that can be singled out.
Define the concept of primitivism and explain why this concept has been critical in the value, dissemination, exhibition, and appreciation of art in general
As a rule, the concept of primitivism can be defined by art historians as the cultural movements which are based mostly on the visual forms derived from non-Western cultures. Nevertheless, more attention should be paid to the specific artworks which were created in various countries that did not belong to the domain of Western culture (Clifford 190). In most cases, one can speak about tribal artworks that can produce a strong impression on the viewers. These artistic forms became very popular at the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time, many exhibitions could give people a better idea about art that departed from the existing canon. For example, one can mention the exhibition, which was held in the Modern Museum of Art. There are several famous exhibits; in particular, it is possible to speak about the famous Kwakiutl mask that inspired many of the modern artists (Clifford 194).
Additionally, wooden figures created by various Angola tribes also exemplify primitivism. Furthermore, it is critical to focus on various articles of furniture created by Native-American tribes. In particular, the interior of Chief Shake’s House can be a very eloquent example of a tribal approach to design. Such artistic objects sparked interest in primitive art. One should bear in mind that at that time, there was a distinction between primitive or non-Western art and sophisticated art that could be created mostly in Europe or the United States. It is one of the aspects that should be taken into account. Nevertheless, the myth was dispelled very soon. It is necessary to keep in mind that a great number of artists such as Picasso were extremely interested in such visual forms because they enabled them to create authentic artworks. To some degree, these people were able to break stereotypes about non-Western culture. On the whole, the concept of primitivism is crucial for understanding the history of art. In particular, it suggests that discrimination is not applied only to people, but also to cultural objects. Yet, such an attitude is not productive. Moreover, by studying the so-called primitive art, a person can enrich his/her understanding of modern culture. Finally, this knowledge is critical for a better appreciation of art. These are some of the main details that can be identified.
Braverman, Irus. Zooland: The Institution of Captivity, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2012. Print.
Clifford, James. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-century Ethnography, Literature, and Art, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. Print.