Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Arantxa Echarte: performance and installation artist

My area of interest lies within anthropological and ethnographical study. As an artist I engage with places and people, immersing myself within specific “situations” offered by the surrounding environment (anything from a scene at a local cafĂ© to conversations shared between people), and developing what an ethnographer would call ‘field work’. As John Monaghan and Peter Just say in “Social and cultural anthropology”: “Ethnography is to the cultural or social anthropologist what lab research is to the biologist, what archival research is to the historian, or what survey research is to the sociologist”. Judging by these statements, I believe that the term “what practical research is for an artist” is equally legitimate.

I believe that self participation in the aforementioned “situations” is the most effective way of understanding the ways in which other people see the world and interact with it. Being able to observe the event first hand, I am able to record these interactions and explore their social and cultural implications. I choose to bring my observational research into my every day activities as, usually, I encounter the most significant social phenomena accidentally. This process automatically implies cross-cultural comparisons and contextual engagement with the spectacle in question.

Therefore, my methodology is based on social observation from which I gather information in several formats: photographs, diaries, digital sound, conversations, or interviews. Because of the previously defined methodology, my work revolves around projects in which I am required to actively participate, and whose ending results are unpredictable.


  1. Hi Aran,
    Great to find out more about your work. Do you ever feel nervous about the fact that you cannot predict the outcome of your interventions? Also, will the fact that you have previously worked in the Netherlands make Vice Versa more challenging for you?
    Speak soon,


  2. Hi,

    Yes, you are right, it is many times nerve braking not to know the outcome of my interventions but I have learned to deal with it. My experience is that I have produced my best pieces of work this way and therefore the methodology works for me. It might not work for everybody. Obviously, you need to find someone (to work for) that is happy with not knowing what the outcome will be. Normally, the people that I am commissioned by are really excited about the unexpected nature of my work.

    I actually dont know what to answer to the second question... I think the nature of this project will be a lot more challenging that the fact that it will happen in the Netherlands, where I have worked before. I am looking forward to starting conversations with the artists there so we will see then...

    thanks for your comments!