Bricolage Revisited: A Roundable on Materiality and the Science of the Concrete

Tuesday, December 4, 2007
10:40 am-1:30 p.m.
Rose Art Museum

Co-convened by Ellen Schattschneider and Mark Auslander

Inspired by the art of Tom Sachs (on display at the Rose Art Museum from Sept. 25-December 16) this roundtable explores the concept of "bricolage" in a wide range of human creative endeavors, with particular attention to the meaningful dimensions of reassembled physical objecs and material forms.Two artists, Michael Mittleman and Anne Lambert, will present on their work and join in the discussions.

In the first chapter of The Savage Mind anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss famously characterizes "bricolage"-- the infinite, improvisational recombination of a fixed series of elements--as a key dimension of the "science of the concrete," a modality of human thought which he contrasts with formal or abstracted scientific thought. In Levi-Strauss' sense of bricolage, the myth-maker repeatedly breaks down prior structures of narrative, intuitively refashioning "new worlds from fragments" without a prior blue-print or overarching plan. Although the term "bricolage" in colloquial French specifically refers to the manipulation of physical objects, Levi-Strauss' development of the concept is strikingly devoted to the immaterial form of myth. How well may the Levi-Straussian model bricolage be applied to materially-oriented domains beyond myth, including the visual arts, fashion, consumer culture, and architecture, or to performance genres such as music, ritual and dance?

This event celebrates the 99th birthday of Claude Levi-Strauss, born on November 28, 1908.

Preliminary Program

10:40-12:00. Panel 1. Bricolage and Art.

10:40 Welcome by Adeline Jedrzejczak (The Rose Art Museum)

10:45 Ellen Schattschneider (Anthropology). Framing Remarks: The Paradoxes of Bricolage

10:50. Casey Golomski (Anthropology). Sach’s Logjam: Policing the Senses

11:00 Peter Kalb (Fine Arts) Reflections on Logjam.

11:20 Response by Tom Sachs

11: 25 Michael Mittelman, artist (Presentation)

11:40 Adelina Jedrzejczak (The Rose) commentary

12:45. General discussion

12:10-1:30. Panel 2. Bricolage, Power and Memory

12:10. Mark Auslander, Framing Remarks: Bricolage and Memory Work

12:15 Anne Lambert, artist (Presentation)

12:35. Lydia Fash (English and American Literature) "Trash: Markings of the Border Between El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua."

12:45. Elizabeth Ferry (Anthropology) "Bricolage in Small Spaces: Mexico"

12:55 Ellen Schattschneider (Anthropology) "Bricolage and Deceiving the Dead: Japan"

1:05. Mark Auslander, "Bricolage in the Front Yard: Georgia."

1:15. General Discussion

Co-sponsored by The M.A. Program in Cultural Production, the Department of Anthropology, and the Rose Art Museum.

Part of our Fall 2007 series, Mirrors of Science