Accepted Paper:

Installing turbulent ethnographies  


Fiamma Montezemolo (UC Berkeley (Art Practice))

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I engage the installation and the video-essay as powerful forms to be deployed in the context of ethnographies of turbulent border zones, including my ethnographc site, the Tijuana-US border.

Paper long abstract:

After a long term commitment to an Anthropology of Art and to an Ethnography of the border zone between Mexico and USA, my relation with the 'writing on' the 'Other' and to the representational method characteristic of anthropological practice found a limit. The ethnographic essay, even in its most experimental forms, couldn't fulfill the sense of the 'unsayable' and 'uncertain' we always face in a given ethnographic process. Out of my fieldwork in Tijuana grew a sense of inadequacy toward ethnographic writing. I migrated then from an Anthropology of Art toward a composite practice of Anthropology AND Art. The expressive possibilities I found in this intersection (including explorations through the essay film) resulted in a less secure but mor rewarding experimental work. Installations and the video-essay work have indeed the capacity of pushing ethnography in uncertain directions, via an investment in the endless dialogue between self and other unmoored from fixed modes of representation. In my art practice, ethnography therefore became a trans-media practice that reflects on the border as an unstable and mobile category of experience, of sensory and conceptual mediations, disciplinary negotiations, and geopolitical articulations; a polyvalent set of mediations of volatile affects. These conceptual and evocative interventions are therefore less about documenting or transcribing' the Other, and more about 'installing' turbulent desires and affects in tense disciplinary and geo-political border zones.

Panel W126
Anxious visions and uncertain images