Magical Art and Art as Magic

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We frequently use phrases such as a "spell-bound performance", "pure magic" etc., in appreciative references to a performance or a piece of art. Still, any other reference to magical, mysterious, spelling or the like in almost every other context has a negative connotation, i.e. regarded as superstitions. Thus, are we to regard the references to magic as merely sayings without deeper meaning, or can establish a real connection between esthetic art and so called primitive thinking?
This paper intend to explore the relation between shamanism and art. Shamanism with its lateral thinking and explosion of symbolism might be regarded as the origin of art. What has been labeled as primitive art belongs to a magical worldview in which objects, designs, songs, and even words possesses a soul or spirit with protective power or the ability to cause harm to another person. While ritual has been compared to theater to some extent by anthropologists, the parallels between the function of religious objects and arts has been so to a much lesser degree. Especially if we are to consider the properties of "modern" western art to be "magical" in the same sense as "primitive art".
As a point of departure my paper/presentation will examine premier arts from the native peoples of the Americas.


Keywords: Shamanism, First Nations, Indians, Magic, Primitive Art, Premier Art, Anthropology, Ritual¨
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. Christer Lindberg

Professor, Social Ánthropology, Lund University
Malmoe, Sweden

I am a professor of Social Anthropology at Lund University in Sweden, as well as professor of Comparative Religion at the Turku University in Finland. My research concerns Native American religions and shamanism, as well as the history of anthropology as a scientific discipline. Furthermore, I do photography and teach Visual Anthropology. As can be seen in the galleries, street life, urban environments and architecture are the prominent captured themes. An exhibit entitled Paris Sérénade was shown at an art gallery in September of 2005.

Ref: A09P0351