Art of Management in Copenhagen


Last week I attended the Conference of the Art of Management in Copenhagen, a very alternative conference for academics in the area of organizations and management, interested in arts. My stream was coordinated by the magnificent team of Louise Grisoni and Margaret Page, and it was all about “the Disruptive Power of Art and Art-based methodologies”. Indeed, I have been working on my paper on Foucault and Painting as published in this blog.  It is a great opportunity to see what is going on in the apparently odd marriage between arts and management, but as billionaire magnate and philantropist Warren Buffett once said: “I am not a manager, I am an artist”. There were a number of interesting presentations about how it is possible to use art to develop leadership, to question processes or to tackle change.  Examples from private sector, public sector and NGOs show the potential of art as a tool for change, sustainability, leadership, innovation and creativity.  Art can be also a life changing experience, and many commented on how they personally got into transformative journeys and renewal after their encounter with art in its different forms. Yes, I understand that completely!

Almost all my life I have “doodled” as a way of focusing my attention, and this conference was not the exception. Indeed, as Ann Rippin rightly said, if this is the Art of Management conference our purpose should be to do art, rather than papers or power point presentations.  However, this is the Academia, and it is difficult to subvert the order of centuries in which the Word has predominance, rather than material expressions of art: in painting, poetry, theater, architecture or jewelry and sculpture.


These are my Zentangles during the conference:

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My friend Ann Rippin presented a wonderful idea linking the ideas of suits as armors by developing what she called “War Collars“. She explains:

“One of the new projects for this year was on the connection between suits of armour and contemporary men’s business suits.  Both are about protection and display, and both are designed for men.  Women fit very badly into business suits just like they fit uneasily with big organisations.  My explanation for this is that organisations are arenas for men’s aggression, real or symbolic, micro-aggressions as they are known in the sociology business and women have no place in men’s quasi aggression (consider women’s football, cricket, rugby, boxing).  You can decide whether you agree with this or not, but whenever I listen to my corporate friends talking about their cars I always think of the scene in `Henry V where the Dauphin and his knights boast about their horses.  Anyway, according to this logic, women going into the corporate fray need their own sort of protection, so I thought it would be interesting to make some gorgets for them, based on an element of plate armour:


Gorgets were the piece of armour that protected the throat.  The throat is a vulnerable area, and also produces the voice, which so many women find gets silenced in organisations, hence the old New Yorker joke, ‘That’s an excellent idea, Miss Jones, perhaps one of the men would like to suggest it.’  So, I decided to make some gorgets with the proviso that they had to be just about wearable.  More about this project later, but I wanted to start with the second one I made, which I call the ‘Money Gorget’.”

 I am always amazed at Ann’s capacity to weave different ideas: from history to gender issues, making sense of these complex topics through the process of making!  Weaving it is indeed a very apt word for her “academic quilter” endeavours.  It is inspiring and give me some hope on my purpose of being an “artist educator”.


P1050076Zentangle War Collars AoM 2014

Most interestingly was that I really make the best of this visit to fill up my sketchbook: impressions, ideas, images, doodling, zentangles, portraits and botanical drawings from an illuminating exhibition called Flora Danica at the Museum of Geology, in the Botanic Garden. The title refers to the first botanical journal published in Europe around the 1648, with the purpose of exploring the vegetation of this region. Indeed, in this journal it is the first time that they mention the word “flora”, by the Royal physician Simon Paulli. This was the time when Linneus had not unified yet the denomination of plants, thus, it was left to the “readers” that they would organise the plants in the order they thought convenient.

The exhibition is rather small, but it shows the importance and history of botanic drawing in the identity of nations.

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Very conveniently located, the museum is next door to the beautiful botanic garden and its impressive Palm House so we (Ann and me) were able to draw and sketch at our pleasure!


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