Accepted Paper:

The way art works: re-imagining the urban  


Julie Crawshaw (Gothenburg University )

Paper short abstract:

I trace human and non-human associations in the making of art and design features in a city centre development. In interviews practitioners talk about art as tool for delivering policy objectives. Through description I reveal how art is rather a catalyst for reflecting on professional remits anew.

Paper long abstract:

What is the role of anthropology in explicating the way art works in urban practice? How can descriptions of urban relationships better articulate the effects of artistic interventions? This paper draws on a two-year empirical study of the role of art and design in urban regeneration. To consider how better to articulate what is produced by art amidst urban practice, I present interviews with a range of practitioners alongside ethnographic description of the operations of an Urban Regeneration Company in the North East of England. At the company, an artist was leading on the re-development of the city centre to include artworks and design features. In interviews we hear how practitioners understand art as a tool for economic development and social renewal. Inspired by the pragmatism of John Dewey (1934), I draw on notions of 'multiplicity' to explicate the effects of art practice on its own terms. To trace associations between 'inner' (human) and 'outer' (physical) materials, I take close account of the working relationships between engineers, planners, construction workers, and artists, as well as plans and drawings, objects, materials, concepts, ideas and natural elements. Through describing the network of relationships through field notes, photography and relational drawings I present a nuanced articulation of what is produced by artistic practice as part of urban development. Rather than deliver policy objectives, we notice how art re-shapes them. Through tracing actors at the 'microscopic' scale, I account for regeneration as a relational practice and art as a conduit to those knowledge relationships.

Panel P062
pARTiCI[TY]pate! Collaborative place-making between art, qualitative research and politics