Maxime Le Calvé is currently a research associate at the Cluster of Excellence “Matters of Activity” (HU Berlin). He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and in Theatre Studies from EHESS Paris and FU Berlin. He was trained in General Ethnology in Paris Nanterre.

1. Rehearsal of the contemporary opera “Mondparsifal” in Vienna, with the contemporary artist Jonathan Meese and the production team. 2017, indian ink and watercolors on paper, 13x21cm

2. Casual street drinking scene in Weserstrasse, Neukölln, Berlin. 2017, indian ink and watercolors on cardboard paper, 21×29,7cm

3. Jazz performance at the Donau115, Neukölln, Berlin. 2017, indian ink and watercolors on cardboard paper, 21×29,7cm

4. Backstage on the set of a VR performance production, briefing of the actress by the film director. 2018, indian ink and watercolors on paper, 13x21cm

5. Operation room during neurosurgical operation, scene of the training of the students of the Charité University Hospital.  2019, indian ink and watercolors on paper, 21x26cm

As part of my ethnographic method, I routinely produce a series of images on the spot – Indian ink lines and watercolours. Quick drawing is a practice that I picked up while doing fieldwork as a team member with the renowned visual and performance artist Jonathan Meese. The work of this painter is only slightly figurative – however, my gesture is close to his action painting, and mastering my own style was a major step in my anthropological understanding of his work. Since then, I have been taking this new tool to other settings. After working on music venues, contemporary art and opera staging, I am now engaged in postdoctoral research about craft practices in neurosurgery and in virtual reality design.

Producing pictures on the spot requires longer exposure. Like others, I find these contemplative moments to be highly conducive to ethnographic epiphanies. My drawings are both field notes and lures for telling ethnographic stories. The use of loose perspective enables me to capture a space as if it was wrapped around the viewer, to gather micro-scenes and place them in my carrier bag to examine later. My pictures also participate in the situations, as they trigger interest and reactions. I’m often told that they convey appropriately the “atmospheres” of the moment. These remarks have fueled my research on the phenomenon of atmospheres, their particular role in social contexts and ways we can study them in our anthropological practices.