?BRICOLAGE: A Comparative Reading of Brian Jungen’s Prototype for a New Understanding and Romuald Hazoumé’s La Bouche du Roi

By Marthe Tveitan

A thesis in Art History presented to The Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas IFIKK The University of Oslo Advisor: Erik Mørstad Fall Term 2008


The purpose of this dissertation project has been to find out whether the bricolage concept of social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss can possibly offer interesting perspectives on how cultural identity is negotiated through the visual arts. Two contemporary artists and their work have been central to this experiment; Brian Jungen (Canada) and Romuald Hazoumé (Benin). My argument is that Jungen’s sculpture and assemblage series, Prototypes for a New Understanding (1998-2005), and Hazoumé’s installation La Bouche du Roi (1997-2005), serve as examples of Lévi-Strauss’ bricolage concept and that they thus exhibit an ongoing process of negotiating the formation of cultural identity. In order to define what I mean by cultural identity, I have made use of cultural theorist Homi K. Bhabha’s Hybridity theory. I argue that Bhabha’s theory of Hybridity opens up the notion of identity to flexibility and change. Consequently, Bhabha’s notion of Hybridity goes well with Lévi-Strauss’ bricolage concept.

The text can roughly be divided into two parts. The first part addresses the question of whether the bricolage concept serves a purpose as a strategy of interpretation or not within a discussion of Jungen and Hazoumé’s artworks. The second part addresses questions about the formation of cultural identity and how cultural identity surface in the art of Jungen and Hazoume.

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