CTS Lesson 4 – Transnational Histories

Todays lesson was a little more heated than usual and involved a lot of debate and controversy. The main topic of the lesson was ‘Cultural Appropriation’ – an extremely relevant subject for todays society. We looked into the history of art/fashion and how artists have taken influence from different cultures to keep the cycle of art moving forward. We noted it was important to understand the history and background of something before we share and take ideas. How do we tell the history of art? Where do we start? and what do we chose? – these questions where helpful in starting the lesson’s debate.

What is Cultural Appropriation?

I found an article on MTV’s website which explained exactly what it is, quote taken from Lakshmin’s article (2016) – “Appropriation happens when a privileged group or individual borrows practices, traditions, clothes, and so forth from a marginalised group and is praised for being cool and unique, while the marginalised culture is looked down upon for participating in the same (their own) customs.”

With technology there has been an even greater increase of cultural appropriation, as more people have access to trends at the click of a button. For example, Coldplay’s music video ‘Hymn for the Weekend’ on youtube has over 618,781,513 views. With the video set in India during the traditional colour festival ‘Holi’, many felt the band was being disrespectful by using the culture for their own purposes. Others felt it was a celebration and acknowledgement of the Indian festival. Coldplay was praised for using their music to educate viewers on the culture and emerging themselves within in it.

A still from the video ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ Source: Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YykjpeuMNEk)


Coldplay Official (2016) Hymn For The Weekend. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YykjpeuMNEk (Assessed October 2016)

Lakshmin, D. (2016) MTV. Available at: http://www.mtv.com/news/2734844/coldplay-beyonce-hymn-weekend-cultural-appropriation-india/ (Accessed: October 2016)

(Below are my notes taken during the lesson on my laptop.)

Transnational Histories

The history of … how do we tell it/ where do we start/ why do we choose?

Are cave paintings first signs of illustration? – Lascaux (FR) and Altaira Caves (ES) 17,000 and 15,000 BCE

Illustrated Manuscripts, from all over the world share similarities by : discussing faith/belief, discussing society . All original and handmade.

Artwork more widely available to the public once print and etching had been introduced – mass production. can be produced quickly and circulated widely so all very relevant

Contemporary work more digital

Before print – illustrated manuscripts, murals.

After print – magazines, editorial illustration, posters, book illustration

Post print – the digital

‘The Canon’ – That which is seen as best and most important in a field of cultural production.

Who decides what one thing is more important than another? The examples and creators?

Who are the ‘Gate Keepers’ – who decide what is worth celebrating and preserving?

Looking at blog post – https://creativethresholds.com/2014/10/23/postcolonial-thoughts-picasso-continued-avant-garde-africa/

Author had strong beliefs that Africa deserves more recognition for the cubist movement. Authors voice holds some authority as he is an artist practitioner and an assistant Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. Expert in his field.

Tate buildings and fortune rose of the back of slavery. Yank Shonibare is an artist who discusses and bases his art on these ideas. Where the wealth came from originally in the British Empire.

James Gillray  made comments on the colonial expansion mainly published between 1792 and 1810. Famous cartoonist and printmaker for his political works.

Edward Said (1935-2003) talks about how in various images and stories there is a clear difference between the orient and the west.

The orient is seen as strange/different/barbaric but the west is seen as advanced.

Exoticism – a fascination that involves a certain reduction to stereotype. (Othering)

Japan wouldn’t engage with trade and with the west until 1835 – V late. Very closed off from other cultures and created a trade empire as a closed off island.

Once Japanese culture had integrated with the rest of the western world it became a ‘canon’ amongst civilisation and especially in art. Very obvious references and inspirations from`Japan.

for example, Osamu tezuka (1928-1989) was seen as the ‘godfather’ of Manga.

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