Wednesday, October 7, 2009

reader response: chapter 2 (pg 69-89)

bri⋅co⋅lage   /ˌbrikəˈlɑʒ, ˌbrɪkə-/[bree-kuh-lahzh, brik-uh-] –noun, plural bri⋅co⋅la⋅ges /ˌbrikəˈlɑʒɪz, ‑ˈlɑʒ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [bree-kuh-lah-zhiz, ‑lahzh]
1. a construction made of whatever materials are at hand; something created from a variety of available things.
2. (in literature) a piece created from diverse resources. 3. (in art) a piece of makeshift handiwork. 4. the use of multiple, diverse research methods.
The part of our reading this week that stuck with me the most was the section on bricolage. Partly because I am a collage artist, a bit because I remember the punk styles during the 1980s, and mostly because I admire the creativity and innovative quality of what our text refers to as, "the art of making do".

I decided to Google the word bricolage and see what I could find. This post contains images and explanations of a variety of associations with the word, idea and practice of bricolage. So
me touch closer than others to the definition as it pertains to our study.


In cultural studies bricolage is used to mean the processes by which people acquire objects from across social divisions to create new cultural identities. In particular, it is a feature of subcultures such as, for example, the punk movement. Here, objects that possess one meaning (or no meaning) in the dominant culture are acquired and given a new, often subversive meaning. For example, the safety pin became a form of decoration in punk culture.


The fashion industry uses bricolage-like styles by incorporating items typically utilized for other purposes. For example, candy wrappers are woven together to produce a purse.

The movie Zoolander parodies this concept with Mugatu's Derelicte, a line of "high fashion" clothing made entirely from trash.

In reality, the current fall 2009 collection from Alexander McQueen makes use of items we would normally discard or recycle, including saran and bubble wrap, manhole covers, garbage bags and wheel hub covers.


MacGyver was a tv series in which the hero is the ultimate example of a bricoleur, creating solutions for the problem at hand out of immediately available found objects.

The A-Team is another example of bricoleur. When the team found themselves in a situation which required creativity for defense or escape, they put together weapons out of any objects available.

Life itself is a bricolage of bricolages, meaning you never know what you are going to get the next day. A reminder of the quote about the box of chocolates made famous in the movie, Forrest Gump. We tend to use whatever resources are available to us in order to survive, which essentially defines the idea of bricolage.

Household Items

A paperclip is a common office item. Used to hold papers together, it can also be turned into a sculpture, a tool for carving/etching into things or even an elaborate light fixture.

Cooking and Food

Cooking is an example of bricolage in everyday life. Cooks often improvise new recipes when key ingredients are not at hand. A well known example of bricolage is the banana. Not only a source of nutrition, it can also calm stomach aches, or help to moisturize the face when made into a mask. A banana peel can be used to buff shoes, polish silverware, and promote the healing of warts, scratches, and minor cuts.

Everyday Life

The lime is a super example of bricolage. A common ingredient used for cooking and adding flavor, it's also used for cleaning. Lime juice can clean pots and pans, bathroom surfaces and glass. Many people use it as a substitute for hair gel and hair spray.

Most info via Wikipedia, images - various Internet sources.


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