On Wednesday I finished looking at two ‘papers’ for the Artistic Research course. The first made very depressing reading and lead me to question the validity of an ideology that appears to be so desperate for institutional approval that it twists itself into some quite unnatural shapes. The second thankfully restored my interest in the progressive possibilities offered by challenging and creative investigative processes.
I wonder when, how and even if the course will consider the socio-political context of higher education, its institutions and awards. The first paper came from a professor at one of the (no longer so) ‘new’ universities in England, and this made me think about the aftermath of John Major’s conservative government’s abolition of the polytechnics. How might artistic research be if art schools and polytechnics had not been forced to adopt methodologies and assessment criteria that were not ever intended for their areas of expertise? Perhaps twenty years after the systematic destruction of the UK’s practice-based education it is a good time for look at how it might be able to re-establish its own identity. (In my mind I have an image of an adopted child coming of age and realising that it has the option to be itself rather than trying to be an unachievable facsimile of it’s non-biological parents. Adoption might be a useful reference.)
For me there is something very human and contextual about theses relationships. This is something that I struggle with – wanting external approval (institutional approval) and at the same time wanting to pursue interests and lines of enquiry that do not sit easily within the academic structure for one reason or another. Are there other arenas in which artistic research could be conducted, presented, validated, appreciated? Scientific research is not restricted to the university laboratory, it also takes place in large multinational pharmaceutical and petrochemical companies for example. Are there artistic equivalent ‘companies’? It would be very interesting to find places where the objective is the research and not the award, places where the research can develop as it needs to rather than inline with prescribed methodologies. I want to listen again to some of the Nobel winning scientists as I am sure I remember one of them mentioning “hunches” that were followed, and assistants who through a “mistake” discovered something remarkable.
During the process of my Master’s dissertation I came across references about how the scientific world (in that case medical research) is adept at making the results of chance and accident look decidely more intentional and designed. In striving for some kind of ‘scientific’ approach I wonder if the artistic researcher is sometimes attempting to ape a myth.
How much time do I want to spend countering arguments that I disagree with and how much time do I want to spend thinking about developing ideas that are positively engaging and challenging?
It is Stockholm Art Week! The annual art fairs that take place this weekend are being complimented by activities at some of the city’s public institutions throughout the week.
To take advantage of it all would be physically impossible! Yesterday I was at Supermarket (the artists’ initiatives art fair) with Birgitta. It was the first time that I have been around the fair with someone else, not only that but we had particular things to think about as we are putting together a proposal for the future of the exhibition space at the studios. For me the idea of some kind of programme is important. I am not exactly sure what I mean by this but it has to do with presenting art in a context.
The word ‘context’ keeps coming up. This afternoon I am going to listen to a couple of the talks about the value of small arts organisations, and questions about their visibility. And afterwards it is “Gallery Night” in the contemporary gallery district ….