CONCRETE MIRROR : Art and Anthropology in dialogue

par Chrystèle Guilloteau - publié le

Art and Research Residency in the ambit of the project ‘The invention of forms of representation in the age of globalisation’

Art is increasingly thought of as the place of imminence, or as Néstor García Canclini phrases it, ’the place where we catch sight of things that are just at the point of occurring’. If we believe this to be true, then what might be the potential of a research enquiry located within the interstices of contemporary art and social science practice ? How might such a process seek to work with that which lies just over the horizon ? From September to December 2017, the EHESS and the Cité Internationale des Arts are hosting an Art and Research Residency in which an anthropologist and an artist will test the potential of such a collaboration, seeing how different research processes can productively intersect.

« Concrete Mirror », the project

Based between the Institut Interdisciplinaire d’Anthropologie du Contemporain (IIAC) and the Cité, the laureates, Alex Flynn, an anthropologist and curator, and Noara Quintana, a visual artist, will work on the project ‘CONCRETE MIRROR’ with the Brazilian diaspora of Paris to examine how subjectivities and aesthetic interventions take shape, contextualised by globalisation, immigration, and radical political change. Through a programme of work based on ethnographic fieldwork, that includes dialogues, workshops, and an installation, the project seeks to create a metaphor regarding the distinct modes in which form is acquired in reaction to that which seeks to immobilise. In moving between flexibility and sedimentation, France and Brazil, and anthropology and contemporary art, the project creates a horizontal dialogue between research processes that share similarities while remaining aware of important distinctions.

As one of three areas of production, the speaker programme places practitioners from within the arts and social sciences into dialogue, focussing on questions of silenced histories, indigeneity, decoloniality and aesthetics and politics. A particular interest lies in how discourse on these subjects can be rendered plastic or otherwise sedimented, and how and where knowledge production can occur, or be configured, through (non)material exhibits. A second area of production develops an interest in questions of the global south, and attempts to move away from the objectification of research participants, instead engaging in a process of co-creation of meaning with actors from the Brazilian diaspora. Noara and Alex will invite members of the Brazilian community to participate in collaborative sculpture workshops within the Cité, with the results of these encounters then being thought through with regard to the third area of production, the exhibition.

In constantly working between the processual elements of anthropology and contemporary art research, the project moves beyond art as a methodological or illustrative ancillary for the social sciences and instead engages with the particular genres of knowledge and ethics that contemporary art proposes.

About the lauréats :

Alex Flynn is based at the Department of Anthropology of Durham University, UK. His research focuses on contemporary art and social mobilisation, specifically on the production of knowledge, artistic interventions with activist connotations, and utopian futures, and he has conducted ethnographic research on these issues in Brazil since 2007. Alex is the author of the books ‘Anthropology, Theatre and Development’ (Palgrave, 2015) with Jonas Tinius and 'Claire Fontaine : em vista de uma prática ready-made' (GLAC 2016) with Leonardo Araujo, and is the co-founder of the network Anthropologies of Art [A/A], a platform which seeks to expand contemporary perspectives on the interstices of the two fields. Alex is also the recipient of the São Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards' 2016 APCA Trophy for his curatorial work at the Residência Artística Cambridge.

Noara Quintana is a Brazilian visual artist based in São Paulo and Berlin. Through the practice of sculpture, intervention and video, her work seeks to investigate the (de)construction of landscapes and explore the frontier territory between the geometric, the poetic and the political. She holds an MA in Visual Arts from the Universidade Estadual Paulista in São Paulo, Brazil, and has exhibited works at the Museu de Artes in Ribeirão Preto, the Galeria Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, and the Museude Artes de Anápolis. Her most recent research project ‘Form under duress’ works through the varying degrees of inflexibility and plasticity of certain objects and materialities, generating a symbolic play between notions of freedom and the conservative, between movement and sedimentation. This research alludes to Brazil’s current political situation and emergent threats to democracy worldwide and has encompassed artistic residencies at BetOnest and GlogauAir, in Brandenburg and Berlin respectively.