About Unserious Science in Serious Art

26. 9. 2019

MGLC Švicarija

About Unserious Science in Serious Art, round table; Rajko Muršič (from left), Miha Horvat, Blaž Bajič, Alenka Pirman, 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, 2019, accompanying event at MGLC Švicarija.

Photo: Nejc Ketiš. MGLC Archive.

The round table organised by the Kula Slovenian Ethnological and Anthropological Association was held at the closing of the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts Crack Up – Crack Down. Alenka Pirman, Blaž Bajič, Rajko Muršič and Miha Horvat participated in the discussion.

At least at first glance, it seems that ethnography and satire could not be more different: the first tends towards respectfully describing ways of life, understanding the world from the point of view of the “native”, striving to produce new knowledge, etc., whereas the second, makes a protest against a person, group, habit or system through more or less frank foolery. Yet both can be defined as ways of describing or portraying reality and – more than that – it could be said that both grab the truth of the phenomena under consideration in the moments of fiction, inherent to the most factual of descriptions. And if an ethnographic turn has occurred in art, then no satirical turn has taken place in ethnography or anthropology as such. The naive question arises – why? Are the reasons epistemological in nature, are ethnography and satire conceptually incompatible? Has anthropology imposed a limitation on itself for ethical reasons? Or is ethnography perhaps not interested in satire, quietly rejecting it because of its implicit political stance? At the same time, another naive question arises – what, if anything, can we learn from satire, and what, if anything, can we do with satire in a world that seems beyond satire because it is already satire itself?