Picking at the paint: Viewing contemporary bushman art as art

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8 Citations (Scopus)


In most writing on contemporary Bushman art the art is discussed as a tool of development, a tourism endeavor and an income generator. While these are aims both legitimate and beneficial to the communities involved, they also work (implicitly yet effectively) to separate the art, artist and subsequently the community out of which the art is produced from "the rest of us", defining these communities as "other". This article attempts to engage with contemporary Bushman art as art objects. Using criteria of judgment based on a functional semiotics of art, two works will be analyzed to prove that the works may be discussed as Art. The premise is that once people recognize the aesthetic intelligence imbued in these artworks they will be able to engage with the work in a way that is similarly intelligent and contemporary. The art and its people will then stand a better chance of being accepted into the realm of the everyday as opposed to being relegated to the sarcophagi of history. Once taken from this starting position, goals of community development and tourism endeavors linked to indigenous art can become that much more beneficial and life-changing for the communities concerned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-442
Number of pages16
JournalVisual Anthropology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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