Folklore and the Folkloresque in Contemporary Art (Session A)
Mon-Thurs / 10-12:00pm
This course explores the use of folk arts, folklore, and “the folkloresque” in contemporary art. We will begin by asking ourselves: what is folklore? Who are “the folk” (and alternatively, who are not)? What kinds of socio-political power structures and identities are reified, invoked, and articulated, or alternatively, subverted and dismantled through folklore’s conceptual and aesthetic invocation? Positioning folklore as a discursive visual medium, we will consider a wide range of entangled themes: the socio-political implications of folklore in creating nation, cultural identity, hegemonic power structures, colonialisms, and modernity (with folklore as its perpetual foil), globalization, anonymity versus authorship, temporalities, gender and ethnicity, cultural hybridization, appropriation, authenticity, nostalgia, hauntology, cultural specters and spectral traces of the past (and future?), revitalisation, and the complexities of cultural production in late capitalism. Using postcolonial theories and contemporary folkloristics as our guides, we will explore how the invocations of “the past” are reflections of how we see our present and formulate possible futures. As such, the course will explore a range of mediums and artists from the last 60 years, including painting and drawing (Maria Primachenko, Amy Cutler, ‘Dargerism’, the rise in popularity of Hilma af Klimt as a contemporary feminist ‘folk hero’ of abstract painting), textiles (from Jordan Nassar’s revisioning of traditional cross stitch to Swedish avant garde knitter Britt-Marie Christoffersson and Swedish-Norwegian tapestry weaver Hannah Ryggen), multi-media (Carrie Mae Weems’s use of fairy tales to explore race and identity, Yinka Shonibare’s performative use of wax cloth), and film from folk horror’s most recent 21st century revival (Ari Astor’s Midsommar and Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona).
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (E) and Chronological period (III).