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Remaking Classical Music: Cultures of Creativity in Pleasure Garden

  • JOSEPH BROWNING

Abstract

Taking its theoretical orientation from Sherry Ortner's distinction between ‘power’ and ‘projects’, this article considers the relationship between local artistic projects and the cultures in which they participate. I focus on Pleasure Garden, a collaborative project that spans site-specific installations, concerts and an album. Exploring a wide range of issues at stake in the creative process, including collaboration, gender, aesthetics, colonialism, the work concept, and commodification, I trace how Pleasure Garden’s creators variously reproduced and reworked dominant conventions, while at the same time pursuing their own distinctive commitments. Through this, I argue that Pleasure Garden’s creators negotiated a space that was inside, yet sometimes out of alignment with what I call the ‘cultures of creativity’ associated with Western art music, the music industries, late capitalism, and neoliberalism. This highlights both the powerful forces affecting musicians today and the possibilities for making things otherwise.

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I am very grateful to the Pleasure Garden team, and Genevieve Lacey in particular, for their openness and generosity during and since my fieldwork on the project. I would also like to thank Chloë Alaghband-Zadeh, Jane W. Davidson, Samantha Dieckmann, Jenny McCallum, and Tom Western for helpful input at various stages, and the two anonymous reviewers for Twentieth-Century Music, alongside Pauline Fairclough (as editor), for invaluable guidance in bringing the article to fruition. This work was supported in part by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

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Remaking Classical Music: Cultures of Creativity in Pleasure Garden

  • JOSEPH BROWNING

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