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14. Before the Wedding

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

THE STREETS OF INDIA are dizzy with color: colors crackle and clash in the temples and shrines, in the marketplace, in the clothes women wear. Colorful ornament enhances beauty and signals desire, whether the goal of desire is worship, commerce, or the communication of one’s place in the cycle of life. At the beginning of that cycle, babies are peculiarly vulnerable, susceptible to disease, carried quickly into deaths that many believe are caused by supernatural powers. The tiny bodies of living babies are decorated to attract the benevolence of the gods while fending off malignant spirits. Many adorn the infant with amulets tied with thread around the neck, waist, or arm. Black kohl is used to line their eyes, for protective and medicinal purposes, giving babies a chic and sultry look. A round mark of black kohl, like a displaced bindi, is located on the face of the baby, often to one side of the head, to ward off evil spirits or deflect the evil eye cast by envious humans, especially if the baby is notably beautiful.

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Medium 9781937538200

10 What Type of Photographer Are You?

Cora Banek Rocky Nook-IPS ePub

»I don’t want anyone to appreciate the light or the palette of tones. I want my pictures to inform, to provoke discussion—and to raise money.« Sebastiao Salgado, Brazilian photographer and photojournalist

There are countless reasons to reach for a camera, and countless subjects to study and capture. The practice of photography takes time and effort; this investment directs photographers to subjects that are important to them. This means that by taking a critical eye toward your photo portfolio, you can discover what interests you, what type of photographer you are, and what your motivations are.

For professional and hobbyist photographers alike, many reasons compel us to pick up our cameras again and again—enthusiasm for a particular subject, winning the recognition of viewers, the good feeling of owning and knowing how to use technical equipment, the social connections that arise from photography, the pride of honing your craft, the reputation associated with the hobby, collecting raw material for a digitally manipulated print, or the simple joy of capturing your own perspective of the world.

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Medium 9780253006875

11. Undisciplined Knowledge

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub


This chapter explores the possibility of art-writing occupying a space that is “undisciplined,” where it resists categorization and translation into the domain of art history. We propose that such a space is enabled not only through dialogue but also by recognizing the multi-sited character of art-making and the effects that its movement, politics, and social relations can have on writing about and framing contemporary art. Constructed as a series of exchanges between the two of us, this chapter builds on the contingencies and temporal qualities of its own making; we tack back and forth, betraying and probing our own disciplinary biases in an effort to meet in the middle. The chapter is defined by its process, which, despite its mix of anecdotes, external references, and tentative offerings, is not an example of the undisciplined per se, but rather an exploration of its possibilities.

Purpura: In February 2008, I attended a conference at Harvard University, “New Geographies of Contemporary African Art,” in which artist Allan deSouza was asked to present a paper on his work that was written by a scholar who, the audience was told, was unable to attend the conference. What follows is an excerpt from deSouza's presentation.

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Medium 9780253013873

10 Zombie Postfeminism

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

The corpse is death infecting life.

Julia Kristeva

While Julia Kristeva doubtless did not have in mind the undead corpse of the zombie when she wrote of the abject and how it forces death upon the living, the walking dead undeniably embody abjection. It is not strange, then, that in representations of zombies, in film, literature, television, or other media, the primary focus is on how the humans who have not been infected confront and battle those who have returned from the dead. Those who engage in zombie fighting are necessarily confronting and denying the death (among other things) that the posthuman monster represents. This analysis of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) looks at how the heroine of his contemporary novel is rewritten to be physically strong, capable of independence, and yet still chained to the necessity of finding the ideal mate that is the touchstone of the original Jane Austen text. The pervasiveness of postfeminism is apparent in the book as Elizabeth Bennet fights off the monsters even while the ideal end for her is to marry well.1 Her education and the fact that she is one of the best in her field are subsumed under the ability to use these skills to secure a man. In fact, it is her very prowess in fighting the zombie offensive, her abilities with a sword, and her capacity for killing that win her the esteem of those around her and garner her the greatest prize of all: Mr. Darcy, a rich and handsome (and equally well-trained) husband. Despite the fact that her militarized body and violence are constructed as being first and foremost for the defense of herself and her loved ones, her finely tuned body is heteronormatively attractive, though this is presented as an added bonus, the result of so much training for the defense of others and not the primary motive for her training. Her body is of primary concern, especially because it is one of the principal tools in the fight against the zombie hordes. It contrasts starkly with the zombie body: where one is contained, in control, and integral, the other is messy, falling apart, and contagious. Arguably, though, the difference between the body of the zombie and that of the zombie slayer hides a more chilling similarity: that both raise the heteronormative necessity of eliminating the other.

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10 Àkó-graphy: Owo Portraits

John Peffer Indiana University Press ePub

The meaning of portraits, the artistic conventions of their making, and their uses are all culturally determined. So too is the concept of the person whose portrayal is the generating cause and iconographic center of the work.


In the Yoruba town of w, Nigeria, there were two traditional burial ceremonies. After the body was interned, a second burial ceremony might take place. Àkó is a naturalistic life-size effigy once used in and named after the second burial ceremony. Àkó is a portrait that attempts to capture the physical likeness, essential identity, character, and social status of a deceased parent through figurative sculpture, dress, rituals, dance, music, chants, songs and oríkì (citation poetry)—all of which are performed during the àkó ceremony. An uninformed observer might be struck by how “photographic” an àkó effigy appears. Indeed, Frank Willett, for example, has argued that àkó naturalism was a recent trait, suggesting exposure to photography, though the use of effigies was ancient.1 Instead, this essay will attempt to show that the fundamental elements of the àkó life-size second burial effigy informed the photographic “traditional formal portrait” in w, to borrow Stephen Sprague’s term, for at least the first three quarters of the twentieth century.2 I will argue that the introduction of photography was neither a significant interference with, nor a termination of, the àkó visual legacy of portraiture and its attendant values in w. We should not interpret àkó in terms of photography; we should instead interpret the latter as àkó-graphy.

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