When the dead rise: Encountering resistant legacies of creative economy within an artist's residency at a municipal cemetery

Recent criticism of creative economies demonstrates tensions between programmes that support innovative cultural expression and community belonging, and those more oriented to instrumentally economic outcomes. While municipal planners recognize the
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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Cultural Trends ISSN: 0954-8963 (Print) 1469-3690 (Online) Journal homepage: When the dead rise: encountering resistantlegacies of creative economy within an artist’sresidency at a municipal cemetery Michael Lithgow & Karen Wall To cite this article:  Michael Lithgow & Karen Wall (2018) When the dead rise: encounteringresistant legacies of creative economy within an artist’s residency at a municipal cemetery, CulturalTrends, 27:5, 353-366, DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2018.1534719 To link to this article: Published online: 26 Nov 2018.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 64View related articles View Crossmark data  When the dead rise: encountering resistant legacies of creative economy within an artist ’ s residency at a municipalcemetery Michael Lithgow and Karen Wall Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Athabasca University,Edmonton, Alberta, Canada ABSTRACT Recentcriticismofcreativeeconomiesdemonstratestensionsbetweenprogrammes that support innovative cultural expression andcommunity belonging, and those more oriented to instrumentallyeconomic outcomes. While municipal planners recognize the link between cultural activity and enhanced quality of life, related budgetsupport typically calls for quanti fi able outcomes. Creative economypolicies and projects are thus vulnerable to favouring more narrowlyconstrued forms of economic growth. We explore the municipallyembedded artist-in-residence (AiR) programme as a source of friction, complexity and ine ffi ciency intentionally introduced intoorganizations constitutionally regulated to suppress exactly thesekinds of excesses. In Deleuzian terms, the social machinery of neoliberal urban and economic development hesitates when itencounters the short-circuiting unpredictabilities of creative desireintroduced by the embedded residency. The municipally embeddedAiR is a residual apparatus of creative economy policy that can o ff  erresistance to and even inoculation against easy alliances withneoliberal economic agendas. In the case of an embedded AiR in citycemeteries in Edmonton, Canada, the artist, working on the grounds,meeting visitors and holding workshops, uses now-obsoletephotographic craft production to manipulate conventional memorialimages and texts in unexpected conjunctions with experimentalaesthetic expression and living stories. The physical presence of theresidency also disrupts received categories to produce the cemeteryas living public space rather than a setting with  “ holes to put thepast in ” . In this sense, the cemetery becomes accessible as newlyencoded, sustainable cultural and recreational space with minimalcivic investment. Calling up ghosts of challenged creative economyideals, this AiR opens new forms of engagement between citizens,local history and urban nature as a complex adaptive system thatincorporates both cultural values and commodity logic withoutprimary emphasis on quanti fi able outcomes. KEYWORDS Artist residencies;assemblage; creativeeconomy; aesthetics Introduction  The current trend in cultural policy in western Canadian cities is to emphasize linkagesbetween cultural ecologies and other sectors of society. Embedded artist-in-residencies © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group CONTACT  Michael Lithgow CULTURAL TRENDS2018, VOL. 27, NO. 5, 353 – 366  (AiRs) are one instance of this trend. They unfold within the instrumentally-oriented neo-liberal structures of municipal administration with results that are di ffi cult to predict,articulate or quantify. This paper explores the AiR as a source of friction, complexity andine ffi ciency intentionally introduced into organizations constitutionally regulated to sup-press such uncertainties. At least two Canadian cities, Edmonton and Winnipeg, embedartists in civic o ffi ces and facilities, but Edmonton is only the second in Canada tosponsor an AiR in a municipal cemetery. We argue that despite the residues of past bio-political regulation inherent in burial regimes, the municipally embedded AiR can o ff  erresistance to related neoliberal constraints on land use and cultural expression to reima-gine conventions around death, burial, and grieving through a more dynamic sense of the cemetery as public space. Calling up ghosts of creative economy ideals, this AiRopens new forms of engagement between citizens, local history and urban nature as acomplex adaptive system (Comunian, 2011) that incorporates both cultural values andcommodity logic without primary emphasis on quanti fi able outcomes. Lines of   fl ight and spaces of play in the creative economy: a Deleuzianapproach to AiRs Cultural activities have become crucial to urban fortunes amid discourses of economicand, inevitably, spatial transformation (McFarlane, 2011). Concepts of cultural economyincluding creative and cultural industries, creative cities and experience economies arecharacterized by  fl uid interactions of production and consumption, institutions and audi-ences that fuel engines of social and economic innovation (Hall, 2000; Matthews &Maguire, 2014). The creative industries promise wealth and job creation at the interfacebetween art, culture, business and technology (Canadian Heritage, 2013; Cunningham,2002; Howkins, 2013).  The 2004 UNESCO Agenda 21 world declaration called cities and local governmentsprimary sites for cultural production, valorizing citizen participation and sectoral interde-pendency to complement instrumental strategies of urban regeneration (UN [2004];Cullen, 2009; see Cultural Development Network, n.d.). In practice, creative industries involve a considerable degree of accommodation with neoliberal goals of urban planningand development investment (Canadian Heritage, 2013; Garnham, 2005; Hesmondhalgh, 2012; Hewison, 2014; Pratt, 1997, 2008). As critics caution, where cultural production becomes just another knowledge economy asset, we risk a signi fi cant democraticde fi cit. Administrative di ffi culties in distinguishing between culture as capital (market)and culture as public good risks missing the distinctive nature of both creativity and cul-tural products (Banks & O ’ Connor, 2009; Garnham, 2005; Hewison, 2014). Statistical regimes and indices can ’ t account for local vitality, and culture does not operate inlogical ways (Miles & Gibson, 2016; see Hall, 2000). Alternative research and evaluation models accept failure and dissent as routes to generating innovation (Lovink & Rossiter,2007; Miles & Gibson, 2016).  The increasingly common appointment of municipal AiRs emerges in this context. Theembedded artist is cast as a catalyst for new ways of acting and thinking about urbanspace, both through dialogic public engagement and impacts on administrative municipalpractices. Although neoliberal values emphasize culture as commodity and economicbooster (Harvey, 2007; Jeannotte, 2010), the aesthetic potentials of AiRs cannot necessarily 354 M. LITHGOW AND K. WALL  be contained and limited through instrumental expectations. In Deleuzian terms, thesocial machinery of neoliberal urban and economic development hesitates when itencounters short-circuiting unpredictabilities of creative desire (Deleuze & Guattari,1987). Certain  “ lines of   fl ight ” --logics that elude the prescriptive natures of urban orderingand panoptic power structures---o ff  er new possibilities in urban life seen as a rhizomaticadaptive systems or assemblages (Comunian 2011; Farias & Bender, 2010). Assemblages, as described by Deleuze and Guattari (1987), are the productive relationsthrough which subjectiveimpulses  –  both concepts and practices  – make sense. With eachconnection, one assemblage to another, the  fl ow of energy is interrupted/drained o ff   inunpredictable ways. Assemblage formation re fl ects di ff  erent tendencies  –  towards open fl uid formation of connections, and also towards the limiting in fl uence of structures, cat-egories, rules, taxonomies, and hierarchies. Within the assemblage,  “ striated spaces ”  arethose organized by rules and regulation, while  “ smooth spaces ”  allow greater  fl exibilityin the formation and interaction of new connections and assemblages. This framework helps to reveal the AiR ’ s potential and limitations for social and organ-izational transformation. The striated spaces of neoliberal corporate institutions organizedesire in highly regimented and instrumental ways to ensure corporate survival and pro fi t(Foss &Christensen,1996,2001;Karaevli &Zajac, 2013; Kra ff  t &Ravix, 2008).Municipalgov-ernments in Western Canadian cities, like governments in most places, strive for stabilityand predictability of social outcomes as a key focus of administrative desire (Foucault,1982). But within these striated spaces are  “ virtual potentialities ”  and  “ permanent inven-tiveness ”  that a ff  ords a foundation for institutional change (Lawley, 2005, p. 43). Assem-blage formation re fl ects patterns of desire which  fl ow along  molar lines  of segmentarityand regularity;  molecular lines  tending to overcome the limitations of molar lines; and lines of   fl  ight  , in which desire  fl ows quickly in unexpected and unprecedented directions(Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Lawley, 2005). 1 Lines of   fl ight are the patterns of desire thato ff  er innovation and adaptability in a striated economic context, but they also suggestrisks including unwanted outcomes or organizational collapse and failure in the wake of too widely distributed or di ff  used goals and processes. A municipality, for example,must innovate and adapt without, as Deleuze and Guattari have said, throwing the “ strata into demented or suicidal collapse ”  (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, pp. 160 – 161).In this context, embedded AiRs bring one set of assemblage relations (the artist ’ s pro-fessional practices within discourses of   fi ne art legitimacy) into play within another assem-blage of institutional hierarchies and regulated e ffi ciencies. The presence of the artistintroduces expressly aesthetic conditions, decision-making, forms of expression and out-comes into an environment not usually governed by or even hostile to aesthetic experi-ence (understood here as the other-than-rational aspects of discourse and distributionsof sensibilities shaping what emerges ontologically as knowable forms of experience(Lithgow, 2012; Lithgow & Wall, 2017; Ranciére, 2004)). For Deleuze, these ontological dis- tributions can short-circuit existing orders of assemblages by (re)routing  fl ows of desirearound existing molar and molecular patterns into new and unprecedented forms of rela-tionality that elude  apriori   conditions of sense-making and confound epistemic expec-tations (Deleuze 1994 , p. 139). To help understand how embedded AiRs can instigatethese new potentials without instigating a  “ demented collapse ”  of organizational struc-ture, we turn to the notion of   “ play ” . CULTURAL TRENDS 355  “ Play ”  describes a unique set of conditions that involve awareness that the territoryof play is separate from  “ real ”  life (sometimes called the  “ magic circle ” ); that there arespeci fi c boundaries in time and space that de fi ne the play territory; that there is atension between constraints (rules) and uncertainty manifest through freedom of action; that play produces positive a ff  ect (Mainemelis & Ronson, 2006; Huizinga1955). Play presents striated space with a ff  ordances for the slippery, smooth spacesof potentials. E ffi ciency or rationality in attaining goals are only as important (or evenless) than the a ff  ective dimensions of joy involved in playing (Mainemelis & Ronson2006). The magic circle o ff  ers a useful model for the transformative potentials of AiRs. Whereasstriated spaces direct energy towards an instrumental end, smooth spaces are more open “ allowing di ff  erence to be related in novel and creative ways ”  (Harper, 2009, p. 136). Withinthe residency, the artist ’ s activities are intentionally (organizationally) smooth so that whileshe inhabits the striated spaces of the host organization, she has the freedom to work according to uncertain or vaguely expressed goals, with day-to-day activities alsolargely unstructured and unde fi ned.In other work (Lithgow & Wall, 2017), we have developed an approach to embeddedAiRs that uses a Deleuzian framework to map three broad categories of residency assem-blage which we call (i) Contexts, (ii) Contact Zones and (iii) Productive Frictions.  Contexts are the individual, cultural and organizational expectations, obligations and conditionsinitially intended to shape the residency experience and outcomes, re fl ecting molarlines.  Contact Zones  describe opportunities for unexpected and unprecedented inter-actions that arise when one set of assemblages come into play with another set of assem-blages, producing molecular lines in the overlap of artistic and corporate sensibilities. And fi nally,  Productive Frictions  emerge unexpectedly from activities, practices and eventsdi ff  erent from both organizational goals and the artist ’ s intent. These re fl ect whatDeleuze and Guattari called lines of  fl ight asdescribed above; they are the unconventional,unanticipated but hoped-for disruptions that occur during a residency. Productive frictionsexemplify ongoing tensions between the play spaces and real world contexts of the resi-dency. They are neither planned nor predicted, but they contribute in meaningful ways toboth artist and organization. Memento vita : cultural policy and the cemetery Edmonton ’ s (2008) cultural policy  “  The Art of Living: A Plan for Securing the Future of Artsand Heritage in the City of Edmonton ”  (EAC, 2008) promoted arts as integral to civilsociety, quality of life and social cohesion, without emphasis on deliverables; a new iter-ation in 2019 continues under this premise (Bell, 2018; EAC, 2017). Meanwhile, in 2010, the city adopted a Cemetery Master Plan to build public awareness about landscapedesign, burial trends and sustainability, a policy shift encouraging the use of cemeteriesas designated park space to ameliorate development and zoning pressures withoutadditional funding (Hill Strategies, 2012).In practice, an essential element of such policy will mean reshaping the public imagin-ation in connection with burial grounds, haunted as it is by colloquial legends, percep-tions of ghoulishness, distinctions between sacred and profane territories, and  mementomori  . In fact, burial grounds in many culture have a rich history of hosting social and 356 M. LITHGOW AND K. WALL

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Oct 14, 2019
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