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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P309)

Dis-/re-placements: creative engagements with people and place

Location Block 2, Piso 1, Room M
Date and Start Time 20 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenor

Victoria Walters (UWE Bristol) email
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Short Abstract

This panel will focus on the role of creative practices in shaping people's sense of connection to place. It will assess the importance and ethics of creative work with people and places and the way in which such practices respond both to the past and to changing contexts, landscapes and needs.

Long Abstract

This panel will focus on the role of creative practices in shaping people's sense of connection to place. Whether through song, visual art or ritual actions, cultural and place identity will be discussed by the speakers as it is (re)produced through living creative traditions. Such practices will be explored as responses to place that are not fixed, but allow an interpretive response to the past, which can be shaped in response to changing contexts, landscapes and human needs, opening up the potential to work across both time and space. However, the creation of place-related practices is not without its ethical dimension and the panel will discuss the validity of ethical concerns about the creative mythologizing of place, for example, looking at concerns about the adoption of indigenous traditions by artists, or the notion of healing one community through working with the mythic themes of another. It will also discuss the sense in which the shaping of lives and places are inherently intertwined, and creative in ways that surpass conventional boundaries between art and life, individual and community. The underlying ethic of the panel will be a concern that such work with place and people needs to be done self-consciously and with an awareness of all the relevant issues, in order to fill a vacuum that may otherwise be filled by discourses re-iterating forms of extremism that suggest that myth is static and rigid, disguising its process-led and humane impetus.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Art as a state of encounter: the works of the Oda Projesi group and Jeanne van Heeswijk

Author: Marta Traquino (Faculty of Fine Arts - University of Lisbon )  email
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Short Abstract

This paper proposes a look on practices in contemporary art which approach the Place in urban contexts by electing direct experience, seeking models of action and located sociability, taking the dialog as the principle of a process that leads to the construction of ‘images’ based on the development of experiences.

Long Abstract

This paper proposes a look on practices in contemporary art which approach the Place in urban contexts by electing direct experience, seeking models of action and located sociability, taking the dialog as the principle of a process that leads to the construction of 'images' based on the development of experiences. Practices that are examples of resistance to social formatation under the influence of the media and which give rise to a set of actions and relationships that occur in a given space-time raising awareness for the sense of inhabit a world in common.

The group Oda Projesi and Jeanne van Heeswijk will be the cases in focus as examples that propose a view of the public space of cities crossed by different communities of language, history, culture and religion (the clash of identities with need of translation), formulating frameworks for experiencies to create something together. Approachs that do not stay by the observation and interpretation of the Other, acting with him in his many forms. In public space heterogeneous and fragmented , these proposals will develop a work focused on micro-situations that give priority to the person.

Enhanced in public spaces outside the circle of institutional art system, and in close relation with the daily lives of its inhabitants, art thus becomes a state of encounter which creates new modes of identification and collaboration.

Song Archive Project

Authors: Iain Biggs (UWE)  email
Yvonne Buchheim (University of the West of England)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper discusses artist Yvonne Buchheim's work on her Song Archive project - an interdisciplinary artwork that interacts with musicology, anthropology and psychology. The project aims to playfully investigate the value of art as a catalyst for social interaction.

Long Abstract

This joint paper by the editors of a monograph on Buchheim's Song Archive Project will discuss the ways in which practice-led research that uses art strategies to situate artwork within the public realm, through publicly funded exhibitions and installations, live art events and academic symposia, interacts with it's initial participants - singers located in a particular context - through a playful dialogue with ethnographic concerns. The artist Yvonne Buchheim set up the Song Archive Project in 2003 in response to a song collection from 1773 by Johann G, Herder. His collection and theory suggests that the cultural identity of a people is reflected through their song tradition. The aim of the Song Archive Project is to develop a body of works that re-examines this assumption in the context of contemporary song culture through the lens of a visual arts practice.

In contrast to conventional ethnographic song collections, the research is not restricted to a particular song type or locality, exposing both tacit musical knowledge and various singing abilities across a wide range of contemporary locations. The paper will discuss the way in which the Song Archive Project does not aim to preserve traditional song, but instead explores participatory art strategies in gathering, examining and exhibiting contemporary song culture. It also asks how this ongoing interdisciplinary inquiry addresses issues of memory, location and context at the intersection of a multiplicity of disciplines and practices.

Death by myth: filmmakers, fantasies and the Kalahari Bushmen

Author: Adrian Strong (Griffith University (Australia))  email
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Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the role filmmakers have played and continue to play in perpetuating a mythic portrayal of the so-called “Kalahari-Bushmen” which has locked them in space and time and continues to have major negative impacts upon their lives. The paper explores the Western fantasies of a pristine Eden which keeps the myth alive and the devastating effects upon real people (the Ju/’hoansi) as well as one filmmakers attempt to dispel the myth.

Long Abstract

This paper explores how documentary and feature filmmakers have used the "Bushmen of the Kalahari" as a screen to project fantasies of a 'window on the Pleistocene.' From the documentaries dating back to the 1950s when groups of "Bushmen" were still living relatively independently by hunting and gathering, the paper will show how an urge to portray people and landscape as part of some pristine wilderness - which resonates with an Eden or Golden Age has led filmmakers to deny reality and perpetuate a myth of "illud tempus," or timeless beginnings. With reference to archetypal psychology, the paper will explore mythic fantasies at work in the Western Psyche, and show the negative effects of these shadow projections upon the Ju/'hoansi whose name means The Real or True People. The paper then shows how one filmmaker, John Marshall, woke up to the mythic projections in which he had himself indulged in his formative years and spent the rest of his life returning repeatedly to the Kalahari to counter the damage he felt the mythmaking of filmmakers and others had done. Finally the paper suggests a more conscious mode of filming in remote indigenous communities and 'exotic' places which is reflexive and takes cognizance of the tendency to project myths and fantasies, while respecting local traditions and culture.

Re-making place through ritual

Authors: Ruth Jones (University of West England)  email
Victoria Walters (UWE Bristol)  email
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Short Abstract

This joint paper will look at the different strategies that artists use to employ ritual to engage communities with place. Four artworks by Joseph Beuys, Marcus Coates, Alastair MacLennan and Shimon Attie, that have engaged communities in times of transition, will be discussed and the effects assessed via the responses of audience-participants.

Long Abstract

This paper will draw from debates in visual culture and social anthropology to explore the ways that artists employ ritual to engage communities with places in the UK in processes of transition on large and small scales. Beginning with a discussion of Joseph Beuys' "Celtic Kinloch Rannoch" (Scottish Symphony) 1970, the paper will go to discuss three contemporary works. In "Journey to the Lower World" 2003 Marcus Coates employs humour and ritual to help residents of a tower block earmarked for demolition to come to terms with the changes that they will face. In "Lure in Rule" 2008 Alastair MacLennan created a work along a footbridge in the market town of Cardigan undergoing regeneration that gently emphasized the celebration of life in times of change. Shimon Attie was commissioned in 2006 by the village community of Aberfan, Wales to create a new work that responded to the 1966 disaster in which 130 people were killed by a falling coal slagheap. In "The Attraction of Onlookers: Aberfan - an Anatomy of a Welsh Village", Attie employs great sensitivity to the villagers' need to both remember the tragedy of the past and to move beyond it.

The paper will emphasis the response of audience-participants to address the questions: How do peoples' experiences of rituals in places that are familiar to them alter their perception of those places? To what degree are such actions a form of re-making of place, a call to address the question of how places could or might become?

What the visitor saw: artists and the heritage environment

Author: Nick Cass (Leeds University)  email
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Short Abstract

Country houses, awakened to their post-museum status, are seeking new ways to engage with their audiences. Using the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth as a case study this paper questions the role of contemporary art programmes and their contribution to visitor understanding of the site and its history.

Long Abstract

Seeing contemporary artwork in heritage spaces is a growing aspect of the visitor experience. This curatorial conflation of the practical and ideological frameworks of heritage preservation with the languages of contemporary art generate a 'hybrid' experience; neither of an 'authentic' interior, nor in a white-cube space. As part of the Brontë Parsonage's Contemporary Art Programme, Cornelia Parker's Brontëan Abstracts exhibition in 2006 is a particularly useful case study to allow examination of the visitor encounter with this hybrid strategy of display. Visitor comments suggest that meaning making is framed very much by prior knowledge and experience; it is as a result of this 'expectation' that visitors appear to either accept this hybrid display as a meaningful experience or not.

Public arts initiatives such as this one at the Parsonage are a critical strategies in the (re)connection of people to places. This hybrid strategy of display can be located within a context of public art; further research and development is needed to ensure it can generate more meaningful heritage spaces and visitor experiences, especially for local and returning audiences.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.