29 Jul 2016

Materials, Environments, and Curatorial Interventions

Second workshop of the research initiative “Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities”

Philipp Schorch and Martin Saxer


mat~con #1 – ‘Material, Experience, and the Mobile’ – set out to take stock of experiences with, stories of, and reflections on things that move and thereby connect or, the other way round, connections made through things. The method employed was decisively simple: each participant prepared interventions – anecdotes of things experienced, conceptual insights, questions, and puzzles. Each of these interventions was accompanied by a material thing – an object, a photograph, a letter, etc. These materials were laid out and discussed. In other words: we were putting things on the table – metaphorically as well as physically – in order to create a layout of materials, field experiences, concepts, theories, and histories. Throughout the workshop, there appeared the conceptual lens of curatorial impulses, gestures and interventions, which seemed worth to be further developed with the aim to collectively think through connectivity and materiality. For mat~con #2 – ‘Materials, Environments, and Curatorial Interventions’, we thus invite participants to (re)approach their respective ethnographic settings and situations through this lens of curation as it emerged from our collective thinking.

While we aim to generate a higher level of empirically grounded theorizing, we suggest a method for this second workshop that is as simple as the one employed for mat~con #1. This time, rather than putting things on the table, we will hang them to the ceiling. Hanging requires hooks and that is – again metaphorically as well as physically – what we aim to do: we are looking for hooks to (re)position thing-stories. This time we plan with longer interventions by the participants (approx. 10 min), each focusing on one thing-story (rather than several storied things). However, these interventions should ideally consist of several things – objects, printed photographs, letters, etc. – that can be hooked to the ceiling and tell aspects or parts of the story at stake.

While we are building the necessary infrastructure for this intellectual playground, the participants are invited to bring along three to four things that can be hooked to a fishing net or a wire grid at about 2.20m above ground, for example with coat hangers or any other facility that provides easy hanging and (re)positioning.

Hanging, as opposed to putting on a table, lets us walk the emerging landscape of thoughts, and look for perspectives on the unfolding stories and their connections. This, we hope, will help us to lift – once again metaphorically as well as physically – our prior layout of materials, field experiences, concepts, theories, and histories, to a flexible investigation of angles and perspectives, which are photographically documented for further use.

A few impressions of the artistic-academic interventions can be found here.

Highland Asia Research Group
LMU, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich, Germany

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