Friday, December 17, 2010

140. Bricollage, Bricoleur's and apostolic ministry

I started a curbside recycling business about 3 years ago, and one of the items I collect on my routes is aluminum cans. It is the only item I am able to sell to a local vendor and make money from it. So, about every two weeks, I go to Jones Recycling, the local metal salvage shop and sell my aluminum. Well, there is a dude that works there named David, and he has this uncanny ability to make and craft new things out of used technology parts. He takes random electronics or computer parts and assembles them together to make something meaningful and useful. This is the latest work of art he has built. It is a "briefcase"  laptop/desktop computer.

There is a word that describes this kind of talent and mojo to work with whatever makes itself available and assemble seemingly unrelated components into meaningful expressions, tools, technology etc. The French call it bricollage, and it is where we get our word collage from. Some people have a knack for seeing unique combination's of existing materials within reach and make useful, valuable creations of them. Those who engage in this often undervalued practice of bricollage are called bricoleurs. It is somewhat similar to the concept of entrepreneur, but differs in that rather than exploiting and taking advantage of opportunities to make money, they exploit the inherent potential in existing objects and materials, and find new potential and value oin those objects by combining them with other materials. IT is so cool to know there is a word out there that describes something you are good at. David is a natural bricoleur, and if you are able to get in touch with him, he just might sell this elaborate, recycled piece of technology.

I cant help but make application here to apostolic ministry. When you start a new community form scratch, you are engaging in bricollage. The assembling of seemingly unrelated part into meaningful expressions is exactly what forming a new community around the gospel is about. Genuine apostolic ministry works with what is present, what makes itself available at the time and works towards helping those parts assemble and mobilize into meaningful expressions.

In order to engage in bricollage you have to see value in every part. It not only requires imagination, although this is essential to the art of bricollage. It also requires an eye for beauty and usefulness. Every person brings something to the table. A bricoleur is someone who is able to see that value and creatively merge it with other parts for collective meaning and action.

No comments: