Art historian and curator, Dr. Clare Harris, will give a talk on Tibetan art based on her upcoming essay, entitled "Trouble in Shangri-La: Tibetan Artists' Travels in the Contemporary Artworld."
Like Shangri-La, the contemporary artworld is often imagined as a utopia where artists are free to circulate and nationhood and ethnicity are irrelevant. However, Harris argues that the artworld is actually a rather difficult place to inhabit. For a group of contemporary Tibetan artists, the artworld seemed to offer an escape from the strictures of their home locations and an arena in which to unite when geopolitics otherwise divides them. But, as their experience of participating in a number of exhibitions reveals, the artworld is a very real place, with its own boundary markers and criteria for inclusion and exclusion. It is not always as paradisal as Shangri-La.
Dr. Clare Harris is Reader in Visual Anthropology at the University of Oxford. She is also Curator of Asian Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum and a Fellow of Magdalen College Oxford. She has published extensively on Tibetan visual and material culture and was instrumental in creating "The Tibet Album," a website featuring six thousand historic photographs of Tibet that was launched by the 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 Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics and the Representation of Tibet, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in the autumn of 2012.