Meetings - performances - ethnographic situations: doing art and acting in the field considered as ethnographic practices
Tomasz Rakowski (University of Warsaw)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper I will focus on ethnographic practice understood as a kind of social-artistic action. I will argue that this perspective can make us possible to step beyond fiction of the ‘natural’ intimacy of fieldwork and to reveal implicit creative work present on both sides of the project.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper I will focus on ethnographic practice understood as a kind of social and artistic action. The main purpose of this paper is to answer the question: how to introduce elements of art to ethnography conducted in peripheral, poor regions without establishing relations of (symbolic and cultural) domination/inequality. In order to do this I reconstruct projects Prologue and Ethnography/Animation/Art conducted in the years 2011-2013; both projects were led by a team of ethnographers, animators, and contemporary artists in the vicinity of Szydłowiec in central Poland, in areas of unprofitable, small-scale agriculture and affected by local unemployment. This experience brings about quasi-experimental research situations, in which ethnographic reality becomes particularly dynamic, 'thick' but also emergent and unpredictable. I will show how ethnography combined with artistic actions reveals an implicit dimension of creative work and spontaneous self-organization on both sides of the project. In this perspective on both sides (ethnographers&artists /local community) we can find phenomena of emergence of meaning, and a kind of lived 'social performance'. I will argue that this perspectives can make us possible to step beyond the fiction of 'natural' intimacy and engagement while doing fieldwork. It is a new methodological perspective which comes about: its aim is not so much to induce 'mechanical' social change but to construct common, creative event with unpredictable and emergent effects. My consideration will be mainly set within theoretical claims by Victor Turner, Erika Fisher -Lichte, and George Marcus.
Ethnography as collaboration/experiment