Accepted Paper:

Exploring the routine grounds of artworks' maintenance : an ethnomethodological perspective  

Author:

Yaël Kreplak (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on the analysis of data collected through a videoethnography in a contemporary art museum, I wish to offer an ethnomethodological perspective on the study of maintenance routines, which should open on a discussion of EM and STS’ distinctive inputs about art as a collective action.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on data collected through a videoethnography in a contemporary art museum, I wish to give an insight into the "shop work" of art professionals (curators, conservators, members of the technical staff...) involved in the daily business of artworks' maintenance. With an ethnomethodological approach and inspired by previous works in the field on maintenance and repair (e.g. Sormani, Strebel & Bovet 2015), I shall try to 'respecify' (Button 1991; Garfinkel 1991; Lynch 1993) artworks' maintenance as a members' phenomenon, as a local organizational achievement, accountable in a variety of practices (from the most 'visible' operations - such as a restoration in case of a breakdown - to the most 'discrete' ones - such as reporting corrections in the artwork's documentation).

In doing so, first, I wish to challenge a range of pervasive dualisms in the approaches to the art : between production and reception, artwork and documentation, artistic and technical matters. The study of maintenance routines, as demonstrated notably by Dominguez Rubio (2013, 2014), offers indeed a promising way to rethink artworks as collective and temporal entities - or as praxeological accomplishments. Second, I hope to contribute to an ongoing debate between ethnomethodology and STS approaches, related mostly to concurrent conceptions of "non human agency" (e.g. Quéré 1989 ; Mondada, Akrich, Hennion & Rabeharisoa 2007), by reexamining some of its features in the light of a study of art-as-a-practical-action.

Panel T007
Before/after/beyond breakdown: exploring regimes of maintenance