The concept of artistic research has raised many questions during the past decade accompanied by intense and heated debates. What form of research could the domain of visual art produce? Do the rhetorics of the concept of research include novel practices or does research rather exclude and/or marginalize certain practices? Could the dual pair of art versus not-art be substituted by the opposition research-based art versus non-research-based creating a novel mechanism of exclusion? Or does a research discourse and its vocabulary point to an already existing practice that could be accommodated in an academic architecture focused on knowledge production through a process of translation? And last but not least, what does the concept of artistic research mean for setting up a Graduate School for Fine Art?
Especially the issue of the role and signification of the academization of visual art served as a starting point for the collaborative project A Certain Ma-Ness started up by Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design and MaHKU (Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design) in 2008 and that ultimately resulted in three projects. Besides A Certain Ma-Ness, the projects Becoming Bologna and The Academy Strikes Back came into being as follow-ups in a series of collaborations. At the core of these projects were the following three questions:
1. What does the current academization and thinking in terms of research competencies mean for the student in art education? Could these competencies be charted in a clear and distinct way? During the A Certain Ma-Ness conference and exhibition (VCH De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, April 2008) the so-called Dublin Descriptors—be able to cope in a research environment, problem solving attitude, well-considered in dealing with complexities, communicative skills, and independent learning—established for dealing with such questions were critically evaluated.
2. What does the Bologna process mean for the didactic role of the lecturer? That was the leading question in the follow-up project Becoming Bologna, a collateral event of the Venice Biennale 2009 consisting of a series of research interventions (Tolentini Building) and a symposium (IUAV, University of Venice). Central questions during Becoming Bologna were, “What is the specificity of the didactic strategies developed because of the academization of art education?” “How is a research-based curriculum designed,” and “how could the research competencies be judged adequately?”
3. What do the novel forms of didactic interaction mean for the art academy in itself? During the concluding conference, The Academy Strikes Back (Sint-Lukas Brussels, June 2010), that question was tackled from the perspective of the Graduate School as research environment and sanctuary for artistic (knowledge) production.
The various responses from these three symposiums emphasize various challenging educative elements such as a clear connection between artistic production and critical studies, a curriculum with chiefly dialogic situations, a focus on public space, and a laboratory-type curriculum experimenting with both novel forms of presentation—for example contextual studies and curatorial studies—and various forms of communication as “agonistic forms of address.”
Agonistic Academies, Sint-Lukas Books, Brussels 2011.
Editors: Jan Cools and Henk Slager.
Contributors: Ute Meta Bauer, Daniel Birnbaum, Clementine Deliss, Charles Esche, Renée Green, Dieter Lesage, Irit Rogoff, Simon Sheikh, Bart Verschaffel, Jan Verwoert, Mick Wilson and Hans de Wolf.
Graphic Design: Jo De Baerdemaeker.
Collateral event as part of the IUAV (University of Venice, Faculty of Arts and Design) Symposium, Art as a Thinking Process (June 5–6), June 6, 6 pm
Aula Magna, Tolentini, Santa Croce 191, 30135 Venice
More information: www.iuav.it
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