Reviewed by: AAA Executive Program Committee
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Labor
Secondary Theme: Materiality
This installation is part of a 5-year multi-investigator project exploring Arctic economies, migration, and language entitled The Cold Rush (P.I.: Sari Pietikäinen, University of Jyväskylä). Multi-modal collaborators Christine Hegel and Luke Cantarella were brought onboard in 2017 to focus on the meanings and modalities of work and labor with the Finnish Elite Hockey league, SM-Liiga. The task was to facilitate the co-design of objects under the proposition that co-constitutive activity generates epistemologies in and out of the field and offers a parallel analytic practice wherein the making of material objects teases out ideas, central questions and speculative solutions.
In collaboration with Pietikäinen, Hegel and Cantarella developed a prototype “conversation object” that crystallized initial findings in the data. The prototype was presented by Pietikäinen to her key informant, a league sports manager, in December, 2017, and together they considered how the piece did and did not reflect facets of his work. Based on this recursive process, the design of the conversation object is under revision and will be fabricated as a 3-dimensional piece. It will be comprised of nine adjacent trophy cases that display fictionalized versions of trophies, pins, rings, patches, and other “commemorative” items; the completed piece will measure approximately 108” (W) x 96” (H) x 10” (D) on a wall surface. These objects have particular resonance in the realm of sports for documenting achievements, and the installation plays with their form and content to make analytic proposals that emerged from the ethnographic data. These include propositions about the kinds of calculations, valuations, and speculations that are entailed in the everyday labor of the sports manager, including assessing the physical attributes, skills, and potentials of players, and evaluating intangible elements of team sports like sportsmanship, aggressiveness, and “hockey sense.”
The installation will be brought to the field site the first week of November, 2018 and exhibited in the SM-Liiga stadium in the city of Jyväskylä for a public reception and to provoke further conversation about the nature of work among other groups involved in the league (parent volunteers for the junior league, coaches, players, equipment handlers, sports therapists, and others). Its exhibition at the field site is intended to deepen the investigation of practices of speculation across different labor domains in hockey that can be tied to the highly variable and insecure nature of professional success in sports.
For the 2018 AAA’s, the installation will be displayed offsite in the lobby of the Hammer Theatre. The physical installation will be coupled with curated digital content about the development of the project and its role as a “conversation object” in ongoing fieldwork. These video and audio elements will be accessible to AAA attendees on mobile devices via QR code scan. During the AAA installation event, typical hockey arena refreshments (Lapin Kulta beer and sausages) will be on offer as a multisensory element for “experience-near” engagement with Finnish hockey and as a means to provoke conversation about the installation with attendees.