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Department of Social Anthropology


Dr Iza Kavedžija (University of Cambridge)

Embodying Emptiness: Enskilment and the artistic imagination in Japan


How is ‘skill’ to be understood when art practitioners deliberately seek to destabilize their practice and avoid treading familiar ground? Enskilment in general is usefully approached as an education of attention, through learning and interaction with others and with the environment. Yet many contemporary artists, in Japan and elsewhere, choose to avoid using those techniques in which they are most highly trained. In the Kansai region of Japan, in an art world structured largely around small, collaborative and improvisational art events, artists are routinely drawn outside their comfort zones of skill and practice in order to participate in what could be described as a form of atmospheric creativity. This rests on a specific form of enskilment, or attunement, epitomised by the idea of "embodying emptiness". 


Friday, 24 May, 2024 - 15:15 to 17:00
Event location: 
Hopkinson Lecture Theatre