Table of Contents:
Currently drawings are made by indigenous artists inside Brazil in large numbers in various contexts. The thesis should show how the artists assimilate this - for them relatively new - medium in their own distinct style and thus express the previously unexpressed. Through drawings of the Deni, Kanamari and Maxakali aesthetic principles and compositional ideas are worked out and the assimilation of the artistic medium is analysed on three levels. Firstly, on a diachronic level in which an art history of the drawings of indigenous artists can be recognised.
Secondly, the drawings will be analysed and interpreted as an expression of a political statement and a statement on the cultural world view. Here the drawing is considered as an image act, their postulating character is highlighted. The flora, fauna and the so-called "inanimate nature" can produce image acts and encourage peoples creativity. This leads to the third level of analysis: drawings are analysed in regard to the creative process and the aesthetic pleasure of the artist.
The three levels of analysis are examined and illustrated within a discussion of various research positions of mainly Brazilian and German ethnologist in the first part of the thesis.
Furthermore, the history of the indigenous drawing is connected to the history of the indigenous literature of Brazil, as it often occurs in the same context. A detailed subchapter is therefore dedicated to the latter. The indigenous literature in Brazil is mainly based on the oral tradition of telling stories and traditional myths. Complex image-text relations can be observed, resulting from the fact that the drawings are often not (only) relating to the recorded versions of the myths, but also on (to the viewer / reader) inaccessible versions and fragments of the myths. As a result, the complexity of the mythology and the inconsistency of individual version are uncovered.
The theoretical positions in the anthropology of art and the history of indigenous drawing / literature are followed by the history of contact, artistic production, ritual life and world view of the three tribes in the second part. These insights provide a basis for the understanding of the drawings. In addition to this approach (based on ethnographic information) the third part presents a detailed formal image analysis, which shall enable approaching the special characters and peculiarities of the individual artist and the elaboration of similarities..
In the third part both drawings taken from books as well as drawings created during workshops held in the villages of Deni, Maxakali and Kanamari are examined. Observing the work process of the latter group of drawings gives insights into the communication of the artists among themselves and illustrates the dynamics of these processes.
The image´s analysis reveals different principles and ways of working. For example the partial or complete copying of images mostly taken from books of indigenous literature. The term "copy" proves to be misleading. In the most works a new arrangement of the original drawings´ image elements and the modification of the original artistic technique become visible.
This process is a cultural anthropophagic act likewise to the assimilation of the medium of drawing by indigenous artists. This essential characteristic is presented in the application of artistic techniques. Many of those creating drawings are eager to learn new artistic techniques and some of them overcome the set limits and combine different techniques.
Besides this other characteristics of the drawings are apparent. For example, the simultaneous representation, mainly in drawings accompanying stories and myths, often has to combine multiple temporally distant narrative sequences. Simultaneous representations can obey the narrative logic of the myths or a drawings´ immanent formal compositional logic. In the simultaneous representations also image elements without counterparts in myths´ texts may appear. These image elements sometimes develop an independent existence, illustrating the aesthetic pleasure of the artist and bring out the distinctness of the drawing with respect to the narrative.
Furthermore, the use of image frames, emphasizing the artificiality and two-dimensionality of the drawing, often giving them a decorative, almost jewellery-like character is noticeable. The latter may cause a strong tension between the mimetic character and the artwork character.
A final digression deals with possibilities of exhibition practices of indigenous art considerate of a balance between art referential and contextual perspectives.
The thesis was supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation with a PhD scholarship.