Paper short abstract:
In August 2017, an art and anthropology installation in a public park aimed at promoting empathy towards the non-human and introducing the theory of Perspectivism to park goers. This paper looks at the mixed reactions to the 'immersive experience' this interdisciplinary collaboration produced.
Paper long abstract:
In August 2017, an art and anthropology installation was created in a public park in the south of England with the aims of promoting empathy towards the non-human and introducing the theory of Perspectivism to park goers. Reactions to the 'immersive experience' this interdisciplinary collaboration produced were mixed, raising ethical questions around oppositions such as public versus private, copy versus fake, and art versus life. From a political perspective, the experience highlighted how shared spaces can become ideological arenas. It also shed light on the moral geography that determines the type of interventions that can be held in public spaces. Drawing on literature on sensuous experience (aesthesis) and representation, this paper explores the potential and limits of conveying anthropological theory through sensory methods, and its political/ethical implications. It engages with early anthropological incursions into the epistemological potential of 'performing ethnography' (Turner 2004), such as those by Franz Boas and Frank Hamilton Cushing, to argue for "thick participation" (Gerd Spittler) as an ethnographic method. It concludes that much can be learned from mixed media methods, and from the tensions that such bricolage may engender.
Doing, making, collaborating: art as anthropology