Infrastructural Bricolage: politics and the absence of arts infrastructure
(University of Edinburgh)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on DiY music and art practices, and consultancy work on culture and development, this paper conceives of arts infrastructure, and lack thereof, as a form of bricolage by exploring the political configurations and modes of ethnographic representation it enables.
Paper long abstract:
This paper considers the political salience of infrastructures in art practices. In doing so, it engages in cross-cultural examination of physical and intangible infrastructural networks through the juxtaposition of a consultancy project on culture and development, and ethnographic fieldwork on Do-it-Yourself (DiY) music and art practices in Glasgow, UK. Based on anthropological research on DiY and how the ethnographic record has represented the nexus between art, infrastructure and development, what seems to pervade the complex interrelationship between art practice and infrastructure is creative improvisation (Hallam and Ingold 2009), an unfinishedness (Biehl and Locke 2017) that enacts diverse artistic possibilities and associated processes of political subject-formation. This is especially true in development contexts as well as 'DiY culture' (McKay 1998), where the lack of physical infrastructure and resources has political resonance and usually encourages the constitution of novel socio-material frameworks that sustain artistic practices. Such formations can be perceived as 'infrastructural bricolage': put together from a limited amount of material resources and not necessarily defined in terms of a project but by its potential use (Lévi-Strauss 1966). The notion of infrastructural bricolage underscores the absence of arts infrastructure, thus exemplifying creativity as a process of 'making do' through the deployment of various 'tactics' (de Certeau 1984). What forms of political subjectivity does the lack of arts infrastructure make possible? Conversely, what are the implications when arts infrastructure is provided and managed by national or international cultural organisations?
The art of infrastructure