Making Energy Infrastructure: Tactical Oscillations and Cosmopolitics

Lea Schick, Brit Ross Winthereik

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Integrating renewable energy sources into the power grid and ensuring
public interest in energy is a key concern in many countries. What role may art play,
and what political strategies do artists employ, in order to intervene in the
infrastructuring of energy and public environments? As the case study here, a
Copenhagen art and energy competition invited artists and designers from around the
world to submit ideas for large-scale public artworks that can generate utility-scale
renewable energy. The competition process had a smooth and consensus-seeking
political strategy, manifested in a set of tactical oscillations. In order to engage with
local stakeholders and ensure the success of the competition, the project managers
oscillated between presenting the competition as part of existing policy initiatives and
as posing alternatives to existing policy. They oscillated between being situated in a
pragmatic present and in an unprecedented future; between being tied to the specific
site of the competition and belonging to no place in particular; and not least between
being predominantly an art project and primarily an infrastructure project. Remarkable
differences between cosmopolitics and smooth politics appear here, especially
compared to the literature analysing the roles played by art and design when imagining
new ways of living with energy. Oscillation between smooth politics and cosmopolitics
may provide a generative way forward for actors wishing to engage in the
infrastructuring of environments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience as Culture
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)44-68
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Making Energy Infrastructure: Tactical Oscillations and Cosmopolitics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this