I am reading Ranciere’s The Emancipated Spectator, in which he wrestles with the problem, especially in theatre, of reducing the spectator to being the passive victim of illusion on the part of those who know better, continuing a line of argument that breaks with Althusser’s vanguardism in the name of a certain equality. This equality welcomes an ever broader sense of The People, and the possibilities of their participation in thinking, art, power etc. I am coming see something friends have long pressed – the importance of providing people with opportunities not just to walk and gawk, but also to shape and make. The WordPoem project works like that. Liz and Lauren led the way last week with their Swing Break installation (see attached)- notionally for humans but actually more adapted to the weight of dryads and fairies. I could direct wanderers to supplies of naturally occurring materials, and perhaps supply string, nails that sort of thing.
To which, I add, do non-humans get a look-in? In my work on Bangladeshi sandcrabs I explored the question of whether animals (incl insects, crustacea) could be said to be artists. At the vary least, contemplating this question can open up the question in new ways. There are two obvious ways this could work. First one could document existing animal art, perhaps commenting on its status. Second, one could try to encourage it by facilitating favorable conditions. So far, the best examples I have are from mudwasps, which have colonized both inside and outside the cob sauna. Inside they have built organ pipes. Outside, they have constructed burrows in the cob that look like the spray pattern of a shotgun. I am reminded of Jencks tolerance of the moles in his Garden of Cosmic Speculation. I want to go beyond toleration to celebration. Are they not artists in residence?