Working with art and ecology: Tools, toolkits and the trickeries of naming.
(Robert Gordon University)
Paper short abstract:
Emerging from the interstices of contemporary art & ecology, this paper focuses on a creative workshop, experimenting with 'messy' methods and correspondences between art & anthropology, and critiquing aspects of policy making.
Paper long abstract:
Working from the interstices of contemporary art and ecology, this paper grounded in an anthropological inquiry into how art came to be made in forests and debates around 'environmental' art and ways of producing 'nature'. It will focus on one of many 'creative' workshops I ran, experiments in alternative 'messy' methods (cf Law, 2010) and research into correspondences between art and anthropology. It developed from frictions I encountered, owing to the ambiguity of my role with the Forestry Commission, as well as around my status as artist or anthropologist. The workshop drew diverse perspectives of artists and foresters together within a deliberately poetic space - also an installation - to explore the value of forests, the role of art, and policy governing art's commissioning. Foresters manage landscapes and negotiate publics over remarkably long time frames, using 'best practice' policy and 'tool kits' to 'balance' 'constraints and opportunities'. Sometimes these entail incongruous categorisations, eg of artist 'types' I argue that, rather than a providing guide for future projects, this legitimises past actions, circumscribing perceived failures. I suggest another way of thinking using 'ecologies of practice, aimed at " the construction of new possibilities [...], in other words, to connect." (Stengers,2005) to make space for creative interventions in decision making,what I call 'speed-bumps' attempts to 're-function' ethnography, through working with art (cf Marcus &Rabinow, 2008). This is part of working towards a more accepting approach to ecology, which incorporates friction, and failure, but works to keep conversations going.
Anthropological visions. atlases of difference, multimedia arcades and non-linear arguments