FOLK AND NON-FOLK

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FOLK AND NON-FOLK: QUESTIONING THE DICHOTOMY :

FOLK AND NON-FOLK: QUESTIONING THE DICHOTOMY Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay LA FILOLÓGICA POR LA CAUSA

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Let us have some tasks: -- Tasks are based on the dichotomous distinction between folk and non-folk....

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Firstly, let us hear two songs:

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Hear the song from the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXHNfIM4Ni8

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Hear the song from the following link: https ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxmmotpHHt0

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May you please identify the differences between these two songs?

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Between them, which one is classical and which one is folk/pop-song or a light music?

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The first one was sung by Sachin Dev Barman And the second one, a composition based on the Raga Nat Bihag , was sung by Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur .

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Songs, from the epistemological perspective, can be seen as thing-in-itself ( ding an sich ) or can be seen as a permutation and combinations of physical notes. Different schools permute and commute these notes to give birth to different genres of music.

Logistics:

Logistics Dhrupad once sung by the subalterns of Gwalior. It is considered as classic after it was sponsored by Akbar and was protested by Abul Fazal regarding its entry as dhrupad was not considered as sastriya . Tappa was also an invention of the camel riders. and the female homemakers of Lucknow sang Thumri . Kawals used to sing kheyal as their so-called "folk"-songs.

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Let us consider this enunciation from Pt. Ravishankar : “ Regarding Durga , as I think, --suppose Bhupali —specially Bhupali raga—and Sarang , these three ragas—I am not saying from my bookish knowledge, as I have not seen this type of discussion in books—all these ragas are borrowed from tribal music. You can get its proof still now—wherever you go—Assam or Himachal Pradesh, here or there, China or Japan—you shall get Bhupali and Durga —you must get these two—somewhere you would get Sarang. You will find Sarang among our Santals . According to many scholars, these ragas, which are based on five notes—not all of them, as I have cited— Durga , Bhupali , Sarang and another one, which is called as Dhani raga— sa ga ma pa ni sa (are found among subalterns). Only the Malkosa is not found in any tribal music, i.e., as per this range. sa ga ma dha ni sa –range is found less. (1980: 191)

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Let us now move to the domain of paintings: Manomohan : So, I decided, after finishing my graduation, I would join Art College. Suddenly, one day I got a foreign magazine. After opening it, what I saw is a full page picture of a bison! It was not a photograph— but a drawing! … (the bison is) charging by its horn. You know, it was a wonderful picture— what strength, what a vigorous gesture, as if de Vinci is defeated. Who did draw such picture-- who is that artist! The caption says that twenty thousand years ago, in the stone age a primitive human drew this picture in the wall of a cave in Spain’s Altamira. The event was so surprising that I said in myself that I saluted you, my dear brother, bison, whatever I would be in my life but not an artist. No Art School of the world can teach me to draw like this. From this point, I was curious about the dividing practice—the divide between civilized and uncivilized… -- An excerpt from Satyajit Ray’s film ‘ Agantuk ’ (The Stranger)  

Altamira Painting:

Altamira Painting

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Binodbihari Mukhopadhyay , an almost visually impaired artist (on whom Satyajit Ray, a student of Mukhopadhyay , made a documentary, “The Inner Eye”), once (1978) depicted an incident, from which he had learnt something extra ordinary . At the time of drawing a herd of Buffalos at the bank of the river Khoay , Santiniketan , some Santal (a so-called “tribe” of India. I am reluctant enough to call a ‘group’ of Homo Sapiens as “tribe”.) women intervened and commented, “ babu , you have drawn the group of buffalos excellently, but why do you not put a buffalo-kid in your picture?”

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Taking cue from the problems inaugurated by Monmohan in “The Stranger” and this narrative depicted by Mukhopadhyay , we can problematize the issues of this presentation from two standpoints: Art school cannot teach art per se; The division between civilized and non-civilized is not tenable and can be reverted.

Slide 16:

Picasso, in 1907, created his famous painting “ Les demoiselles d’ avignon ”. Five female nudes were standing almost in a row. They are supposed to be prostitutes/sex-workers. The five faces are a bit strange in their look from the standpoint of document standards.

Les demoiselles d’ avignon by Picasso:

Les demoiselles d’ avignon by Picasso

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The fact is that Picasso used the totem figures and masks of some communities of Africa.

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Is it, then a high-art or a low art? Is it an instance of primitive art?

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Picasso’s painting African mask

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Picasso’s painting African mask

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Picasso’s painting African mask

Reinterpreting Africa and Picasso Painting: Debraj Goswami:

Reinterpreting Africa and Picasso Painting: Debraj Goswami

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Let us see some calligraphic works by Satyajit Ray-- Please notice carefully the following film-posters designed by Satyajit Ray:

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In these posters, I found deep impacts of Artistic pattern of European staff notation in the graphemic syntagms ; ( b) Alpana (“ritual painting” mainly practiced by Bengali women at the time of religious festival; the term denotes 'to coat with’. It is generally categorized as “Folk”-Art ) in Ray’s graphemic representations.

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Thus, so-called division between classical and folk art is blurred in Ray’s representation of Bangla graphemes. The three-tier X-height of Bangla graphemes was presented in a manner of musical map and the contours, curves in between horizontal and vertical meeting-point, follow the patterns of alpana . Authors also showed the metamorphosis of graphemes (This might be designated as “ Archewriting ”) as a living object/ subject in Ray’s manipulation of Bangla graphemes. Bengali children, when is to be introduced in the Language Art (especially Bangla writing system), may practice alpana with a festive mood for the easement of their finger-movements and for alpana’ s affinity with the Bangla graphemes.

Slide 31:

The tasks are to problematize the dichotomous relationship between “folk” and “non-Folk”….the dividing practice…. Let me finish my presentation with an economic statement by viewing a re-presentation…

Slide 32:

Debraj Goswami is re-interpreting Ramkinkar Baij’s Sculpture... Santhal Family by interrupting it with a bulldozer... It’s an intervention on the Eviction... The secret moment of Primitive accumulation... It is the intervention of the developmental paradigm as preached by the World Bank into the so-called “primitive” tribal life... It is the disruption on the bio-diversity that was preserved by those uncivilized sa ( va ) ges …..

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Painting: Debraj Goswami

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Sculpture: Ramkinkar Baij

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Manmohon , the stranger, was questioning the dividing practice....

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Watch the scene from the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyaRbbyz8rY

Slide 37:

Let me ask some questions on the basis of above discussions– Who are tribes, aborigines and folks???

Slide 38:

“ Tribe ”: What does it mean? Is there any biological definition? Are “they” (note the deictic “they” that entails spatio -temporal and personal distancing effect or process of othering ) not human beings/homo sapiens sapiens ? Is there any cultural/social definition?

Slide 39:

Is it a politico-administrative term, adopted in Academiocracy ? Is it a colonial construct or historical apriori ? Is it a dividing practice deployed by different disciplinary technologies ( subjectification ) for the sake of objectification of subjects and subjection ( governmentality ) as well?

Slide 40:

The anthropologists’ concept of ‘tribe’ differs from biological taxonomy, though ‘tribe’ is seldom used here in taxonomizing species-genus. The politico- administrative (not epistemological) status of ‘tribe’ in the Indian constitution is peculiarly tautologous : 

Slide 41:

“Article 366 (25) of the Constitution of India refers to Scheduled Tribes as those communities, who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution. This Article says that only those communities who have been declared as such by the President through an initial public notification or through a subsequent amending Act of Parliament will be considered to be Scheduled Tribes. The list of Scheduled Tribes is State/UT specific and  a community declared as a Scheduled Tribe in a State need not be so in another State/UT .(emphasis added) The essential characteristics, first laid down by the Lokur Committee, for a community to be identified as Scheduled Tribes are – • indications of primitive traits; • distinctive culture; • shyness of contact with the community at large; • geographical isolation; and  •backwardness” ( http:// tribal.nic.in/Content/DefinitionpRrofiles.aspx )

Slide 42:

All these politico-administrative distinctive features might be contested by just following Levi-Strauss and putting questions like: What is primitiveness, backwardness (in contrast with World Bank-sponsored ‘development”)? etc. My agenda is to understand the discursive formations of dividing practice (with universal truth claims) that lead to such objectified categorization. Nothing more than that!  

Slide 43:

Same questions are also applicable to the terms, “ aborigines ” and “ aboriginals ”. Why are we branding a group of human being as  ab -origines ? Is it not coined (with a new semantic value) by the colonizers as an exonym for “original” inhabitants of Australia (around 1788-90) by deliberately forgetting “their” endonyms ? Hiding invasion? I am deliberately using the term” endonym ” instead of “ ethnonym ” as I have same questions regarding the status of “ethnic group”. Why are we not simply using “group”, “ kowm ” or “community” for such groups?

Slide 44:

Firstly, I must admit that I am not an etymologist nor I,  un phenomenologically speaking,   am searching for the authentic (?) meaning of the ‘word’. (cf. Derek Attridge’s   article “Language as History/History as language: Saussure and the Romance of Etymology” in Attridge , D. Bennington, G. Young, R. (Ed.). 1987.  Post-Structuralism and the Question of History.   New York. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. &  “Why Do I Forsake Historical Linguistics?” https://www.academia.edu/411313/_Why_Do_I_Forsake_Historical_Lingui ... )

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Secondly, despite the fact of being  an anti-etymologist, I am skeptic about the interpretation of the prefix ‘ ab -‘  as  “from the beginning” in the word “aborigine”.   http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ab-   says—I am citing,     “Word Origin 1. a formal element occurring in loanwords from Latin, where it meant “away from”: abdicate; abolition.   < Latin  ab   (preposition and prefix) from, away, cognate with Greek  apó ,  Sanskrit  ápa ,  German  ab ,  English  of , off  “   (Cf.   https://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110504103743AAurthh http://www.vocabulary-lesson-plans.com/prefix-ab.html https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_words_prefixed_with...  )  

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If it is believed to be “away  from” (origin), how could I interpret it as “from the beginning”. Furthermore, please note the meaning of the Sanskrit cognate “ ápa -”,  which is sometimes used as negative marker it “express deterioration”. Cf.  http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/   Cf. English word “ abnormal”. Thirdly, my foreparents are staying here at West Bengal, India “from the beginning (what is beginning? )”.  Are we aborigines? None calls us “aborigines”! Lastly, I cannot decide the origin of “aborigine”.  Let us be homo sapiens (essentialism?).

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I have another question:   May we, members of academic tribe, habituated in the culture of critical discourse take value-loaded terms from the common usages and deploy them in the realm of our epistemological pursuit?

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COLOPHON Prof. Keith Hart Debraj Goswami Akhar Bandyopadhyay

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