Abstract: L’Invention du quotidien (The Practice of Everyday Life) .4 The significance of Friedman’s work lies in the conceptual strategies of assemblage and bricolage that he employs.1 For all their playfulness and apparent slickness of execution and conception, Friedman’s works and the stock of arthistorical motifs he frequently (if obliquely) exploits through various strategies of recycling and appropriation or borrowing articulate a model for thinking about art’s relationship with its past. 41 For de Certeau, Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, and Friedman, using the merest set of blocks to do it yourself, implies a very different learning of the world, one that is tied not to the passive and readymade form of the plastic toy or consumer good, but to a process of generating individual, active modes of engaging with the world.42 Bricolage and braconnage, far from offering outmoded approaches to making and making do, might yet provide die most productive modes of explaining and encountering one’s lived environment.
Applin puts forward the notion that Friedman’s process of making, and making do, draws on the twin strategies of bricolage (“do-it-yourself”) and braconnage (“poaching”), terms which she, in turn, poaches respectively from Claude Lévi-Strauss’s 1962 work La pensée sauvage (The Savage Mind) and Michel de Certeau’s 1980 book L’Invention du quotidien (The Practice of Everyday Life).
“Lévi-Strauss’s description of bricolage is a temporary, do-it-yourself form of collecting, reordering, and recycling – a borrowing from other spheres and practices in order to generate if not something new then at least something else. De Certeau compares and integrates Lévi-Strauss’s model of bricolage with the practice of braconnage, or “poaching.” Braconnage relies not on established modes of reading, in which readers passively absorb the text before them, but is, rather, a dynamic process in which the readers as braconneurs establish their own routes through the given material with what de Certeau calls an “artisanlike inventiveness.” For de Certeau, the two practices are commonplace, banal activities in which we all engage; yet both potentially enable us to produce distinct, oppositional ways of engaging with the world.
In defining Friedman’s work:
“While Friedman does not use junk or throwaway materials, his works do address the impoverished conditions under which the object qua object now operates.”
“A continual procedure of recycling lies at the core of many of Friedman’s works, a circuit of exchange in which the leftover remnant of one work provides the building blocks to generate another, suggesting a process less of renewal than of making do.”
Tom Friedman – Untitled (Eraser Shavings), 1990 http://artintelligence.net/review/wp-content/uploa…
Applin references Briony Fer’s “sculpture as leftover” – Briony Fer, “The Scatter: Sculpture as Leftover,” in Part Object Part Sculpture, ed. Helen Molesworth (University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2005) – a book on its way to me in the Christmas post.
In 2000 Friedman participated in the group exhibition American Bricolage at Sperone Westwater, New York, curated by David Leiber and Tom Sachs. The gallery’s promotional material claimed to eschew “traditional artistic materials (but not an awareness of the history of art)” in order to create a “new cultural syntax out of the debris of the already-given.”