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Islam in its International Context: Comparative Perspectives

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011 | CONTRIBUTOR

islam in its international contextChanging attitudes to Islam profoundly influence political cultures and national identities, as well as policies regarding immigration, security and multiculturalism. Given that the majority of relevant scholarly works have either adopted monocultural perspectives, or approached Islam in its general, non nation-specific dimension, the need for in-depth, multi-nation studies is urgent. Islam itself, and responses to its rise, are becoming increasingly internationalised. It is therefore important that analyses of Islam-related phenomena are sensitive to the particular cultures in which they are encountered. This volume does precisely that. Contributions, some explicitly comparative, others implicitly so, cover perspectives from across Europe, the USA and the Middle East, along with new treatments of the rich diversity to be found in Islamic art, and discussions of inter-faith exchanges. They also represent a range of disciplinary approaches. Among the many issues addressed are: the challenges posed by the rise of Muslim radicalism to multicultural societies; various media treatments of the War on Terror ; the national specificities of Islamophobic xenophobia; contemporary visual arts in Islamic societies; differing attitudes to the translation of religious texts. The authors include authoritative, international experts, balanced by promising, younger scholars.

Chapter authored:The Burden of Representation: Contemporary Visual Arts in the Middle East.

To purchase a copy of Islam in its International Context: Comparative Perspectives please follow this link.

Camps (or the Precarious Logic of Late Modernity)

Spring 2011

Susan al-Khatib, Sofas: A Series, 2007–08, and Doors: A Series, 2005–08. From How Beautiful Is Panama! A photographic conversation from Burj al-Shamali camp, 2008.

To a rock-hewn chamber of endless durance,

In a strange cold tomb alone to linger

Lost between life and death forever[1]

In the late 1970s, during a drawn-out house move, my parents sent us to holiday camp. This was no ordinary holiday camp, but the renowned and much-loved Butlin’s holiday camp in Mosney, a small town forty-five kilometres north of Dublin. Butlin’s holiday camps were the brainchild of one William “Billy” Butlin, an entrepreneur who had set up his camps throughout the British Isles with the expressed wish of providing affordable holidays for all. The motto of Butlin’s was “Our True Intent Is All for Your Delight,” and that was precisely what our family believed. We spent a halcyon week there unaffected, as we later recalled, by the fact that the camp itself was rather makeshift, the chalets substandard, the facilities inadequate for purpose, and the swimming pool an accident waiting to happen. Moreover, the maritime-themed restaurant was nothing more than a chipboard facade with some plastic seagulls suspended from the ceiling and, bizarrely, an underwater view of the swimming pool complete with the unwholesome sight of submerged, sunless-white legs and torsos.[2] Needless to say, all of this would remain largely anecdotal and the stuff of family lore were it not for the fact that, as 
I recently found out, the Irish government subsequently saw it fit to turn Butlin’s Mosney—after a period of decline in its fortunes—into a holding centre for immigrants.[3] (more…)

Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010 | CONTRIBUTOR

Conspiracy dwellings‘Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art’ brings together nine illustrated essays of theorists and art practitioners about artworks made in the midst of conflict or from the position of commentary and critique in topics that span from the 70s to the present day. The contributors Anthony Downey, Christine Eyene, Liam Kelly, Verena Kyselka, Robert Knifton, Outi Remes, Maciej Ozog, Paula Roush, Matthew Shaul and Pam Skelton consider the practical and theoretical status of surveillance from a variety of positions that include surveillance and its impact on urban space, architecture, citizenship and civil liberties. These essays also provide the opportunity to consider artworks that address conflict and resistance as a lived experience alongside strategies of counter-surveillance that propose new spectatorial positions, individual empowerment and entertainment. Today, in post 9/11 times of economic difficulties, political uncertainty and suspicion, the subject of patriotism, freedom and democratic rights are once again high on the agenda, raising questions such as where do we draw the line – how far does surveillance have to go before it worries us – and at what point is the citizen regarded as a threat to the state?

Chapter authored: The Lives of Others: Artur Zmijewski’s Repetition, The Stanford Prison Experiment, and the Ethics of Surveillance.

To purchase a copy of Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art please follow this link.


Reference

Downey, Anthony. “The Lives of Others: Artur Zmijewski’s Repetition, The Stanford Prison Experiment, and the Ethics of Surveillance.” Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art. Ed. Outi Remes and Pam Skelton. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010. 67-82.

Art and Authenticity

Lund Humphries, 2012 | CONTRIBUTOR

art authenticityArt and Authenticity explores a range of questions around the ideas of authenticity, originality and replication in art. The authors move far beyond the fundamental question of ‘Is it genuine?’ to themes and definitions surrounding authenticity as a concept operating across different periods and contexts. The chapters consider empirical aspects of art analysis but also more conceptual and theoretical understandings of authenticity. For example, is there such a thing as authentic presentation and display of artworks? Can the idea of authenticity be applied to subject-matter and style? How do the art market and the art world respond to the perceived authenticity of artworks? This book addresses a wide range of topics within the arts and will appeal to a broad readership, from students and art specialists to art-world enthusiasts. Historically, the idea of scientific verification has arisen as a reaction against the perceived excesses of the connoisseurial tradition, a tradition which has fallen from favour over the last 50 years. The idea of individual ‘expert knowledge’ rests uneasily in the current climate. However, recent attempts by experts to develop definitive scientific methods for authenticating artworks are also proving to be problematic. Connoisseurship, it will be argued, still has its role to play within these debates. Therefore, through the broad range of artworks and perspectives developed within this volume, the book suggests that although the concept of authenticity is not without validity or usefulness, it nonetheless poses a continually moving target within the frameworks of varied cultural and historical constructs. The authors challenge a narrow interpretation of ‘authenticity’ as a concept applied to the art world, for the issues surrounding authenticity are rarely black and white.

Chapter authored: Authenticity, Originality and Conceptual Art: Will the Real Elaine Sturtevant Please Stand Up?

To purchase a copy of Art and Authenticity please follow this link.

127 Cuerpos: Teresa Margolles and the Aesthetics of Commemoration

01 October 2009

Teresa Margolles

Teresa Margolles, 127 Cuerpos (127 Threads), 2006 (and details) as installed in Kunstverein für die Rhein, Lande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf Photo: Achim Kukulies

Death is most frightening, since it is a boundary.
– Aristotle

A length of thread, stretched tight from one wall to another, spans the wide, corridor-like gallery space of the Düsseldorf Kunstverein (fig.46). At more or less waist height, it cuts off one third of the gallery along its longitudinal axis, leaving the viewer with the majority of the space in which to walk and examine the thread. On closer inspection, this turns out to be 127 separate pieces of cotton thread that have been tied together using a basic knot. On each of these threads there are uneven stains; mottled, reddish-brown traces that call to mind the colour of red wine dried on a white tablecloth. And that is it. Apart from this enigmatic installation by the Mexican-born artist Teresa Margolles (b.1963), there is nothing else to look at in the Kunstverein on this day in 2006. Whilst this may appear ‘minimalist’ in the extreme, and Margolles’ work does draw upon a minimalist aesthetic in its display, the sheer, if not vertiginous, ‘emptiness’ of the room encourages us to look more closely at this length of thread. There is, after all, nothing else to look at – nothing else in which to take visual refuge. (more…)