December 19, 2011 - La Triennale - La Triennale—Between the Near and Far: Concerning Ethnographic Poetics
December 19, 2011

La Triennale—Between the Near and Far: Concerning Ethnographic Poetics

Steven A. Tyler in the Field.
Photograph by Martha G. Tyler.
Reproduced in Clifford, James and George Marcus: Writing Culture.
The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, 1986.

La Triennale—Between the Near and Far: Concerning Ethnographic Poetics​
Intense Proximity

​20 April–26 August 2012

Palais de Tokyo and other venues

La Triennale is pleased to announce further details about the show, which will open on April 20th, 2012 at the renovated and expanded Palais de Tokyo and other associated institutions throughout Paris. Intense Proximity, the third edition of La Triennale imagined by Okwui Enwezor, Artistic Director, and his team of four internationally recognized curators—Claire Staebler, Mélanie Bouteloup, Abdellah Karroum, and Emilie Renardwill shine a critical lens on what might be best described as the phenomenon of ethnographic poetics.

While Intense Proximity is grounded in the production of contemporary practitioners, it takes as one of its central curatorial features the critical legacy of French ethnography in the first half of the 20th century. Drawing from significant figures including Marcel Mauss, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Leiris, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Marcel Griaule, the project will feature more than one hundred contributors across a range of practices including artists, filmmakers, photographers, writers and institutions. It will present the rich photographic and archival work of historic figures such as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Marcel Griaule, Pierre Verger, Walker Evans, André Gide and Marc Allégret, Jean Rouch, Irving Penn, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, amongst others.

The phenomenon of ethnographic poetics to which Intense Proximity refers could be understood as part of the great heritage of modernity that created a model of global relations in which the precise measure between the near and far was blurred. The concept of distance in the field of ethnographic research required the severance of temporal contiguity within a broad array of cultural scenes that were assumed to be incompatible. Thus incompatibility framed a world of the outside. And on the inside it furnished a philosophical program and specular devices. Twentieth century ethnography’s great legacy, and its impact on the world of forms and visual production, is thus not simply in the prodigious research output it manifested nor in its voracious appetite for radical alterity. Rather it was in its excavation and aesthetic mining of the moment of ethnographic encounter, a strange field of sensorial mythopoetics in which otherness was registered and transformed in the visual field by the speculative camera. Intense Proximity is in turn a form of curatorial speculation on the continuous fascination between ethnographic poetics and contemporary art, a probing into the metastasizing politics of anti-difference.

The exhibition, which extends across multiple sites in Paris, will be accompanied by a substantial publication, envisioned as a critical anthology of texts by historic and contemporary writers who have shaped the discourse of ethnography. This bilingual publication (French and English) will include a selection of seminal texts across the disciplines of ethnography, sociology, cultural studies, art history and philosophy from throughout 20th century to the present. In addition to these historical texts, leading contemporary scholars, theorists, critics and artists will present newly commissioned essays.

Over the course of several events taking place in early 2012, the curatorial team of La Triennale 2012 will announce additional details about both the exhibition and publication.

La Triennale is organized at the initiative of the ministère de la Culture et de la Communication / Direction générale de la création artistique, commissioner, with the Centre national des arts plastiques (CNAP), associate commissioner, and produced by the Palais de Tokyo. La Triennale is organized with the support of the Institut Français.

Press information:
presse [​at​]

General information:
contact [​at​]

La Triennale
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