tourist art and the anthropologist’s gaze

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These details caused Iconophilia to reflect how seldom “tourist art” depicts its target audience… Not that there are many tourists who make it to the Minaret of Jam these days. The Minaret of Jam, in its multiple imaginary representations, is one of the most popular subjects for the pictorial carpets of western Afghanistan in the past decade. “Why do they all look different?” I asked a dealer. “Because none of the weavers have ever seen it” came the answer. But it’s rare that a work of art made for tourists depicts its imaginary audience. This carpet shows a photographer at work with a burqa-clad subject, posed in front of her nomad’s tent. In the other corner we see the outsiders filming each other in front of the monument. Or is this even more specific, an image that closes the loop by depicting the art historian, or the anthropologist, out there engaged in “fieldwork”?

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3 comments ↓

#1 Pammy Faye on 11.14.09 at 8:49 pm

Political tourists perhaps? Lenin, Uncle Sam and Maggie Thatcher?!?

#2 Nigel on 11.15.09 at 9:01 am

And Dr Doolittle holding the camera? Nobody’s noticed the Pushmepullyou in the foreground of the other detail!

#3 Pammy Faye on 11.15.09 at 10:05 am

Ah yes, I’d missed it, along with the fabulous tent the woman who is cooking is sitting in.

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