Posts Tagged ‘art’

Two peer-reviewed articles on (1) artistic prosumption and (2) the development of several departments within the Burning Man organization now available

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Two of my peer-reviewed journal articles about (1) the Burning Man organization and the arts and (2) the development of several Burning Man departments – the Black Rock Rangers, DPW, and the Tech Team – are now available in print and on-line.

You can also download some of my other academic and general publications and view links here. Please email me with a request if you or your institution does not have access to a particular article that is in print.

1. Chen, Katherine K. 2012. “Artistic Prosumption: Cocreative Destruction at Burning Man.” American Behavioral Scientist 56(4): 570-595.

Researchers have called for more studies of how organizations institutionalize the unfamiliar as taken for granted. This study answers this call by examining how an organization has advocated an unfamiliar activity, the prosumption of art. To show how particular means and ends become taken for granted, this research analyzes how the Burning Man organization has promoted a logic advocating the prosumption of art. Using an in-depth ethnographic study of the organization behind Burning Man, a weeklong gathering of 50,000 persons around a ceremonial bonfire of a 40-foot-tall sculpture in the Nevada Black Rock Desert, the author shows how the Burning Man organization codified and advocated what she identifies as an inclusive community logic, a set of beliefs and practices that promote artistic prosumption. Members sought to expand who may produce art by recasting producers and consumers as prosumers, what kind of art is produced by encouraging interactions via prosumption, and how art is consumed by imbuing prosumption with specific meaning via connection. However, conflicts about whether particular actions support or undercut the inclusive community logic have not only challenged the Burning Man organization’s authority to shape prosumption but also forced organizers to clarify the ambiguous contours between appropriate and inappropriate activities. This research makes three contributions: (a) It reveals how an organization can facilitate new conceptions of activities by promulgating a logic that highlights contrasts between not-yet-familiar and conventional means; (b) it delves into how an organization adjudicates among competing conceptions of appropriate activities, illuminating the promotion of prosumption specifically and the emergence of a logic generally; and (c) it synthesizes three separate literatures on the sociology of organizations, prosumption, and art.

2. Chen, Katherine K. 2012. “Laboring for the Man: Augmenting Authority in a Voluntary Association.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations 34:135-164.

Abstract: Drawing on Bourdieu’s field, habitus, and capital, I show how disparate experiences and “dispositions” shaped several departments’ development in the organization behind the annual Burning Man event. Observations and interviews with organizers and members indicated that in departments with hierarchical professional norms or total institution-like conditions, members privileged their capital over others’ capital to enhance their authority and departmental solidarity. For another department, the availability of multiple practices in their field fostered disagreement, forcing members to articulate stances. These comparisons uncover conditions that exacerbate conflicts over authority and show how members use different types of capital to augment their authority.

The spread of interactive art to Governors Island, NYC

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Two weekends ago, I biked to the free ferry that runs between Manhattan and Governors Island, the latter of which is open during the summer through early fall. My purpose: participate in FIGMENT, an interactive art exhibit organized by local artists and inspired by Burning Man principles. After stuffing my bike onto one of four bike racks lined up in the carport part of the ferry, I pedaled my way around the island, stopping at art exhibits (plus a distant view of the Statue of Liberty) and performances along the way. Even though FIGMENT is now gone, the mini-golf course and other installations remain through Oct. 2010. A bike isn’t necessary to explore Governors Island (you can rent a bike or a multi-person bike); you can also easily walk the island by foot.

Here are two examples of the 2010 FIGMENT art installations:

Cradle made from an oil drum and military attire (like Rosemary's Baby cradle)

Stryofoam packing material recycled - a totem to consumer goods?

Burning Man’s PRECOMPRESSION Sat., June 19th in San Francisco

Monday, June 14th, 2010

For those of you in the Bay area, this is a chance to participate in a pre-Burning Man event in San Francisco. Bring your art, volunteer, and meet new friends!

“Burning Man presents a Mega-PRECOMPRESSION…
Launching our 25th BURNING MAN Season!!!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
8pm to 4am; Come early to avoid the line and not miss the fire performances!
At The Concourse Exhibition Center and parking lot next door
635 8th St (enter at 7th St & Brannan), SF, CA 94103

$25 Advanced sale here. $30 Door in costume/playa finery; $35 street clothes; 21+ over; Outside Fire Art & Sculpture Garden; Inside Art & Artifacts

Art • Music • Performance * Fire Artistry * Theme Camps * Art Cars * You!

A historic & spectacular night! Celebrate on the original Summer Solstice weekend it all began in 1986 with a fiery and festive Precompression event in the heart of San Francisco! Ramp up your Radical Self-Expression because tonight marks the launch of the 25th Burning Man season and we want YOU to pARTicipate!

Join MANY longstanding playa favorites! Look back at where we’ve come from and get a sneak preview of Metropolis 2010 projects and where burners are going as a global community and culture.

Music & Performances: Mutaytor; Copper Lantern Fire Theater; Soul in the Machine; Vau de Vire Society; Capacitor; MoPo; Nocturnal Sunshine; Space Cowboys (8ball, Deckard, Zach Moore, EricHz, Kapt’n Kirk); UBUV; Afrolicious; Pyronauts; Scot Jenerik; Hookahdome; Gooferman; Smoove; Fou Fou Ha!; Dex Stakker; Hybridz ‘R Us; Mancub; Bad Unkl Sista; ICON; Tom Jonesing; EO; The Fossettes; Hobo Gobbelins; Shredder Hoops; Metamorphosis Ballet; Imps of Sneth; Firish; Kiss & Tell; Dark Sparkle Burlesque; CaroLuna; Isopop; Monkey Chant; DJ Dragonfly; Vulcan Crew; Neon Bunny; Ian Michael Smith & Bliss Butterfly; Mo Corleone; Shovelman; Alt Tal; Justin Credible; Spiral; Magician Brad Barton; beatbox by One Mouth Band; Matt Jalbert; SatsiSonik; Whiskey Devil; Nancy Asiya Belly Dance; a Kidnap Fashion Show “curated” by Animal Control; and MEGA-many more!

Art & Artifacts: Jennybird Alcantara; Dana Albany; Maricela Alvarez; David Best; Bruce Beeley; Joegh Bullock; James Cole; Karen Cusolito; Dan DasMann; Tony Deifell; Chris De Monterey; Wally Glenn; Emma Hardy; Justin Gray; Flaming Lotus Girls; Flux Foundation; Al Honig; Laura Kimpton; Kinetic Cab Company; Lasers&Lights.com; Danny Macchiarini; Nightshade; Playaflies; Kitty Gordon; Jess Hobbs and Rebecca Anders; $teven Ra$pa; Pierre Riche; Mini Man & The Mini Man Crew; Brad Templeton; Todd Williams; Ben Zero; and more!

Art Cars & Camps: Playapus Corralus; Bed Rock Hot Rod Taxi; PhotoBoof; Tundra Bunny; Nautilus X; The UNIMOG; Black Rock Indie Fest; Peoples Spa; Workshop Corner; Earth Guardians; Little Shop of Horrors, Excellent Adventure Display, etc and HOORAY!

So, dust off that playa spirit and dress to express! This night is the focal point of a full month of celebrations and events leading up to our 25th Burning Man event and the year beyond. You won’t want to miss it! More info and schedules: www.burningman.com/special_events

Artists, art cars, non-sound theme camps, and acoustic performers still interested in participating, email: flambelounge@burningman.com. Especially string musicians to play unamplified in the sculpture garden after our sound permit ends outside.

To volunteer: SEvolunteers@burningman.com
www.burningman.com”

Burning Man film festival in San Francisco, June 12-13, 2010

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

For those of you in San Francisco, you have the chance to celebrate Burning Man’s history via film. Films include a documentary about the artist David Best, who constructed the temple that appears on the cover of my book!

Please read the official press release below:

“Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco: A Unique Two-Day Film Retrospective to Commemorate 25 Years of Burning

(San Francisco, May 26th, 2010)—The Official Burning Man Film Festival will showcase 20 short and feature length films when it takes place on June 12-13, 2010 in San Francisco. The Film Festival will offer theatergoers a unique look at Burning Man through the eyes of filmmakers who’ve documented various aspects of the Burning Man event and culture throughout the years. Saturday’s “Then” line-up will feature films shot between 1991 and 2004 and Sunday’s “Now” queue boasts an array of films shot from 2002 to 2010. The festival will be held at the Red Vic Movie House at 1727 Haight Street, SF, CA 94117.

“This festival is a rare and unique opportunity to see Burning Man from the beginning,” said festival co-producer David Marr. “[The Film Festival] is a chance to see how [Burning Man] was created and what effect it has on us today.”

Program highlights include a Midnight screening of Juicy Danger Meets Burning Man by David Vaisbord on Saturday evening with a cocktail party, roving performers, and a grand raffle. On Sunday, David Best, known for his elaborate temple structures at Burning Man will be available for a Q & A before the screening of The Temple Builder, a film by Dearbhla Glynn and April Blake that looks closely at David Best’s life and work.

To view the Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco program, visit www.burningman-filmfest.com.

The Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco is one of several special events coming up in June to kickoff a year-long celebration of 25 years of Burning Man. For more information on upcoming events, please visit www.burningman.com.”

The Great Metropolis Face-off, Burning Man vs. the Big Apple, round 7: living the dream

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The Big Apple, thanks to a rehabbed image (i.e., I heart NY), now inspires visitors and denizens to live the dream. Visitors avidly pursue a checklist of the hot restaurants, coffee shops, clubs, museums, shows, and parks that they should patronize, lest they miss out. Others imagine that their social and cultural lives will improve with a move to the big city. For those of us who live and work here, enjoying NYC’s amenities requires effort, particularly when coping with a demanding career and other responsibilities.

Recently, two Burner friends and their 1.5 year-old baby visited NYC. Normally, we only get to visit while living and volunteering at Black Rock City, so it was interesting to duplicate some activities with them in the Big Apple.

Getting together with a bunch of people in…
…the Big Apple: everyone arrived between 20 to 40 minutes late due to public transportation, work, etc.

…Black Rock City: everyone rolls in on playa time.

Enjoying participatory art in…
…the Big Apple: We visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) where the baby’s presence triggered interactions and reactions that even the notoriously “odd” sociologist Erving Goffman or performance artist Marina Abramovic’s participatory art could not provoke. One person immediately bestowed upon my friends an extra, free ticket that they couldn’t use. Several patrons smiled at the baby, including two young women who turned away from watching Abramovic at work to interact with the baby. Two different security guards, a man and woman, both cooed at the baby. However, a few patrons displayed or verbalized their displeasure within earshot of my friends when the baby let out a few complaining noises. To soothe the baby, my friend pushed her stroller around me and Abramovic’s vehicle; she counted off the circles, in homage to one of Abramovic’s performances.

…Black Rock City: lots and lots of art, small and large, that don’t involve climate control, guards, or a bag check.

Finding a bathroom in:
…Black Rock City: relatively easy, just look for the colorful banks of portable toilets and bring your own hand sanitizer.

…the Big Apple: not-so-easy, after a fruitless stop at a fast food restaurant, we had to go to a friend’s apartment.

Learning about art-making in:
…Black Rock City: easy, just walk up to the artist and ask. Maybe s/he will give you a lesson.

…the Big Apple: possible if friend whose apartment you need to visit for the bathroom happens to be a working artist.

Commuting in:
…Black Rock City: easy to walk, bike, or hitch a ride with an art car. Bicycling is a lot of fun under the starry sky.

…the Big Apple: involves lugging a baby carriage up and down the stairs because some subway stations don’t have working elevators, triggering a group effort. No stars, unless you pass by a movie set on the way.

Our friends have returned home after a whirlwind visit; hopefully, we will get to repeat our activities in Black Rock City.

Funding for art in the Big Apple and Beantown: proposals due May 1, 2010

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Have an art project in mind? Like NYC’s Governors Island? Or, are you located in the Boston/Cambridge area?
FIGMENT is accepting art proposals – click here for more info.
“Submissions are now open for the FIGMENT 2010 events in New York City (6/11-13) and Boston (6/5)! All submissions must be received by May 1 to be considered.”

Changes in participation in the arts in the US

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

See this website, which has reports on data collected on arts activities between 1998 and 2000.

For instance,
“How the public participates in and consumes the arts is expanding. The arts participation measure is on the increase. Personal arts creation by the public is growing steadily (making art, playing music). Attendance at mainstream nonprofit arts organizations, however, is in decline.”

Talk by Ann Swidler at the Graduate Center, NYC at 3pm EST this Fri., April 16, 2010

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Those of you who are interested in the arts or culture might like this talk by a seminal scholar in the sociology of culture this Fri. at the Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Ave. in NYC:

“Prof. Ann Swidler of University of California, Berkeley, and visiting scholar, Russell Sage, is the speaker of our colloquium on Friday, April 16 at 3 pm EST in the sociology lounge (6th floor) at the Graduate Center . Prof. Swidler will be speaking on “Access to pleasure: Aesthetics, social inequality, and the structure of culture production”. The talk argues that the Bourdieuian focus on “cultural capital” and culture as a basis for asserting “distinction” misses what is most fundamental to cultural practices: the pleasure of aesthetic experience. Then it analyzes how structured social inequalities affect the likelihood that different groups will have more or less access to pleasurable, exciting, or fulfilling cultural experiences.

A reception will follow the talk.”

Next “author meets critic” session Sun., April 11, 2010, 10:15-11:45am

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The next “Author Meets Critics” session about my book will be Sun., April 11, 2010, 10:15-11:45am at the Pacific Sociological Association annual meeting in Marriott Oakland City Center, Oakland, CA. The room location is 201. Critics are Michael McQuarrie (UCDavis) and Jeff Sallaz (UArizona).

Creating spaces for artists

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Recently, some urban planners and politicians have touted nurturing artistic, creative professionals as the means for revitalizing or gentrifying urban areas. However, poorer and less politically powerful locals may eventually be displaced as rents and property values rise. In addition, funding for the arts is still relatively scarce, and art galleries and museums tend to favor star artists with international reputations. Artists thus face several challenges in producing their art – getting resources to do the art, developing relations with supportive colleagues and institutions, and finding places to share their art.

While alternative art venues like Burning Man can help with such issues, community-based collectives are also important to supporting local artistic activities, as argued by Yasmin Ramirez of Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY). Last night, I attended a talk by Ramirez, who discussed the importance of local networks in supporting the arts. She also presented the results of a survey of artists of color who had applied for an arts grant from the Urban Artist Initiative. Her report is available here.