Department of Art and Art History Calendar

Art History Lecture Series presents Clare Harris

Clare Harris,
University of Oxford

In and Out of Place: Tibetan Artists’ Travels in the Contemporary Art World

The contemporary art world is often imagined as a placeless utopia where artists are free tocirculate and their nationhood or ethnicity is of little relevance. However, in this lecture I will argue that the art world is actually a rather difficult domain to enter and inhabit. For a group of contemporary Tibetan artists, it initially seemed to offer an escape from the strictures of their home locations and an arena in which to unite when geopolitics otherwise divided them. But as their experiences of participating in a number of exhibitions reveal, the art world is a very real place, with its own boundary markers and criteria for inclusion and exclusion. It may not always be a paradise.

Clare Harris is Reader in Visual Anthropology at the University of Oxford, Curator of Asian Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum and a Fellow of Magdalen College. Her research has focused on Tibetan/Himalayan visual and material culture, contemporary art, the cultural politics of the Tibetan diaspora and British photography in the colonial period. She was instrumental in creating The Tibet Album, a website featuring six thousand historic photographs of Tibet that was launched by the 14th Dalai Lama in 2008. In 2000 her study of modern Tibetan art, In the Image of Tibet, won the International Jury Prize for best book in Visual Anthropology from the Centre for Ethnohistory, Palermo, Italy. Her latest book The Museumon the Roof of the World: Art, Politics and the Representation of Tibet  will be published by the University of Chicago Press in November 2012.