YR 1 Proseminar: Research Practices 2019-20
Proseminar: Research Practices
Session 4 (12/12): Taking "Research" Literally with Florian Cramer
We will consider where the word and concept 'research' has been literally used in contemporary art practice, maybe cover surrealism ("bureau de recherches surréalistes") and the Acéphale group/Encyclopaedia Da Costa, surely the "Experimental laboratory for free artistic research" founded by Asger Jorn and others in Alba in 1955, Adrian Piper's 'Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation', and ultimately what art critics dub the "research art" of, among others, Hito Steyerl and Trevor Paglen; alternative concepts and practices of research such in the Otolith group and the Black Quantum Futurism collective; maybe also look at the use of the term in music (such as in the "GRM - Groupe de Recherches Musicales" which grew out of musique concrète and involved, among others, Michel Chion and Eliane Radigue) – and more examples to be added by seminar participants. Questions would include: Is there a common denominator of, or even an underlying ideology in, these practices? Which difference does the term "research" make in the arts - which practices and discourses are being included and excluded by it? And which differences exist with "research" done by artists? To which degree has the term become tactical (or even opportunistic), and how has it become institutionalized? (Maybe look at what has just been funded by the Dutch Research Council as artistic research: https://www.nwo.nl/en/news-andevents/news/2019/08/seven-projects-funded-under-the-smart-culture---art-andculture-programme.html )
Session 3 (28/11): What is "a position" in research? with Natasha Marie LLorens
Where do you speak from? Is this the same place you make work from and/or write from? If not, what's the difference between these places? What does your body have to do with this positionality and what aspects of this body and its history does a researcher have control over? Is having control over one's position the same as being responsible for one's position? Natasha Marie Llorens will ground these methodological questions in a discussion of her own doctoral research on experimental film in from an Algerian context in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This project led her to question the innocence of research as a methodology for encountering the world and to try to develop curatorial strategies to address how violent it can be to try to "understand" others, depending on the position from which one begins, but also how necessary it is to try to confront that which one cannot really know.
Collective Task: Mapping our privilege and lack of privilege as a way to understand positionality Individual Task: make a short five-book bibliography that addresses the context for your own position
Please upload your notes on the discussion here:
Please upload your bibliographies here:
Session 2 (31/10): Fold in Fold out Research / Frankness and Innuendo part 1 with JV
Following current debates on 'research' in the arts, one could at times get the impression that the discussion was driven by a desire for the production of a perfectly flat economy: The value of the artwork is to be measured by the exact amount of transparent content the artist put into it. What goes in comes out. No value added. No assets withheld. According to this logic of flat equivalency, the relevance of a work will be gauged in terms of the subject matter addressed. If what the work is 'about' matters, surely the work must too! Two hundred years ago or so, a painting with Napoleon on it may easily have been considered more significant than one depicting a different subject. If this seems ridiculous, why are we still talking like this is how art works?
In practice, one of the all-time classic problems of making works based on potent subject matter is to find oneself totally paralyzed by its inherent importance: If the source material, in and of itself, is already so endlessly meaningful, what could I possibly add by making a piece about it? The fish is too fat to fry, too huge to devour, too poisonous to digest… but it won't go away either. So what do you do about it?
Classic problem number two: What makes material powerful? Under what condition, in what state, does material unfold its potential? Does a piece fulfill its promise when all that must be said and shown for things to be understood, is said, shown and understood? Or is it all the more potent (portentous even) when it protects its secrets, and first of all relays the desire, horror, or unresolved fascination that compelled the researcher to embark on their search? When does it make sense to lay the research bare and unfold all its implications? When is it vital to fold it all up again, pack away the material and let the archive fall silent, so its ghost can step forth?
We will share some experiences, look at examples and perhaps attempt some exercises.
Further reading: 'Monday Begins on Saturday', text by JV (2013), link to pdf here:
Session 1 (27/9): Introduction to the Questions of the Seminar + The Problem of Reading with KB
"I'm aware that young curators thinking about exhibitions and curating in institutional structures sometimes talk about research when they mean looking something up or reading. That's not research, that's reading."
Liam Gillick in dialogue with Lucy Cotter, Reclaiming Artistic Research (Hatje Cantz, 2019), p. 27
Notes on the discussion from Pascale + Linus + Bruno:
Keywords noted in the discussion: naivety, carelessness, play, intuition, intellectual food, inhibition duty, situatedness, embodied experience, embodied knowledge, economies and ecologies of knowledge-exchange (making the most of local resources!), responsibility, self-consciousness of one's position and privilege, discovery, research as a parallel track to art-making, as a preparation for art-making, as a journey, unlearning, googling, grounding authority (how and at what point do you claim the right to pronounce on other bodies of knowledge?), copying, plagiarism, translation and transformation...
TASK: make a personal Reader to accompany you throughout this first year of study. A Reader (as a type of book) is a collection of different texts brought together for their relevance or relation to a general question or area of inquiry. We will consider the example of Revolution: A Reader, ed. Lisa Robertson and Matthew Stadler. Your Reader will be an open collection of a diverse body of materials that you intend to read or reread, a companion that you will engage with, react to, annotate and learn from over the course of the coming months. Print your Reader in an edition of 2: one for your personal use, to add to and annotate and one for your tutors. Deadline for the Reader (which can of course be added to throughout the year): 11am, Weds October 9th.
READERS online links:
All Physical Readers are in the office....
"Everything depends on what, if anything, we find interesting, on what we are encouraged and educated to find interesting, and what we find ourselves being interested in despite ourselves. And when we are interested, we pay attention."
Adam Phillips, Attention Seeking (Penguin 2019), p. 3
Question: Might it be possible to rephrase the question research in terms of attention? Of paying attention? What - inside or outside the studio - are you currently paying attention to?
Please upload your responses with your name here:
Y1 seminar led by Liesbeth Bik, Kate Briggs, Jan Verwoert and Katarina Zdjelar
4 credits: 8 sessions throughout the year.
Research Practices is a provision for first year Master Fine Art students. It is an invitation to share and discuss, to speculate on and try out (and possibly also to discard) various understandings of and relationships to the activities of “research”. What is research for an artist? What counts as research? What forms or actions does research consist in? When and how is research productive for an artist – and what exactly can it be productive of? When and how do practices of research get described, shared and made visible, in artworks, for example? And when and how are they hidden and obscured? This monthly seminar is a space to think these questions through together by means of discussion, observation, listening as well as directed activities and exercises. Part of our project will be to explore a new vocabulary for talking about what is commonly called “research”: perhaps “research” is the wrong term for some of us or all of us? Perhaps the term “references”, likewise, could be replaced with something else? The primary aims of this seminar are to enable students to identify, articulate and affirm in their own terms the value of their existing approaches to research, as well as to actively explore the affordances of new ones. Each session will be led by a different practitioner (artist, writer, critic, curator) who will open out these questions in relation to their own practice. The practitioners will assign the students a task per session – an action, style or approach to research to be activated in their own time. The seminar will culminate in a public presentation in the summer (the form of which is to be decided) and the submission of an essay on research and practice in the spring. In this way, Proseminar: Research Practices facilitates the Graduate Research Project and Thesis in the second year of study.
Session by session course outline: