Ethnographies of the artistic event: managing uncertainty as a method 
Roger Sansi (Universitat de Barcelona)
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Jennifer Clarke (Gray's School of Art, Robert Gordon University)
Jennifer Clarke
Christopher Wright (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Thursday 12 July, 11:30-13:15, 14:30-16:15, Friday 13 July, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

Rather than confronting uncertainty, contemporary art events thrive on it: they intend to have transformative social effects by creating unprecedented relations between different social actors. This panel will bring together ethnographies of artistic events, exploring how they manage uncertainty.

Long Abstract

Contemporary art has shifted from the production of objects to the promotion of events and situations. Many artistic events nowadays intend to have transformative social effects, by creating unprecedented relations between different social actors. More than confronting disquiet and uncertainty, the artistic event thrives on them: contemporary art thrives on chance and serendipity. On the other hand, the promotion of artistic events has become central to cultural policy: the "creativity" and "serendipity" that these events propose to stimulate is described as key to cultural and economic development and innovation; art and culture have become a key economic resource. But paradoxically, by promoting these events, cultural policy institutions force them into the administrative framework of the "project", in which the intentions, methods, and outcomes of the process have to be clearly defined. Artistic practitioners are asked to give certainties on an essentially uncertain practice, define the method of a fundamentally non-methodical practice. What are the outcomes of this encounter between artistic practice and cultural policy? This panel proposes to bring together different ethnographies of artistic practice, by exploring the notion of the artistic event. Anthropological ethnographies of artistic events can give a radically original perspective on these processes and their social outcomes, shedding light on how they are articulated, how the "potentialites" of art to instigate creativity and transform society are managed.

Accepted papers: