Accepted Paper:

Attempts at collaboration between ethnography and performance (or: how to fail better?)  


Alicja Khatchikian (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from my research in the field of performance art, this paper attempts to unveil the idiosyncrasies between fieldwork and creative process by tackling the relationship between artist and anthropologist.

Paper long abstract:

Notwithstanding experimental efforts to do fieldwork differently and the increasing desire to engage in interdisciplinary collaborations, the necessity to reimagine the political space of fieldwork as both a space of empirical fact-finding and imagination (Marcus 2007) is still needed.

If experimentation in anthropology already shifted from textual outcomes to fieldwork practices, fewer guidelines are provided on what these practices are and how they can be carried out. In fact, beyond apparent methodological and thematic affinities, the aesthetics of fieldwork and those of artistic processes differ fundamentally (Schneider 2015).

As a result, while theorists are primarily presented with the task of observing art practitioners and following them throughout the creative processes (Mock 2002), the lack of shared practice engagement beyond theoretical speculation can drag collaborations into a state of creative paralysis and result in producing any tangible result.

Starting from a reflection upon a failed attempt at collaboration between an artist and an anthropologist, this paper looks with hindsight at the experience and attempts to unveil its points of encounter and resistance from the ethnographer's standpoint. It therefore poses a critical question: why should artists be interested in collaborating with anthropologists?

Panel P018
Notions of Failure in Art and Anthropology