Re-reading some more of the Artistic Research course texts, or perhaps reading them in a (literally physically) different context has been surprisingly rewarding. Sometimes it can take a really long time for me to ‘get’ something, or to reach a level of understanding that offers some significant potential for advancement. It has occurred to me that perhaps the wonderful, and challenging in a broad sense, opportunity that artistic research offers is a radical alternative to previously established traditions that both classify and separate things as either objective or subjective. Being able to consider A/R like this seems to make good sense – once again I return to the image of the venn diagram and the overlap.
I continue to struggle with artworks produced prior to, or outside of the recognised canon of, A/R. I tend to support those who claim that artworks always have had a relation to research – it is all a question of approach and perspective!
Two weeks ago two artist friends/colleagues and I began the formal process of establishing an independent platform for artistic research. It feels very good and exciting. The idea has been floating (incubating?) for over a year, for me it certainly feels right that it has taken time for us each to work through what and how we want this thing to be. It was on a particularly fine summer afternoon that the three of us sat outside a café and held the inaugural meeting of “The Institute of Artistic Research”. The serious playfulness of the name well reflects our ambition to offer an open, creative, independent, and alternative place for artists who are engaged with, and interested in, research. We will invite a couple more artists to join us on the ‘committee’ and then begin to plan our activities. Already the three of us ‘founding members’ have quite different ideas and practices – we see this as one of our strengths, as something that will enable us to encompass and encourage a diverse programme.
Folklore came up in discussion the other evening after dinner. We were talking about Swedish traditions to do with death as a friend’s father has recently died. The Swedes or at least the ones that I know are not particularly sentimental, this is not to suggest that they are not emotional, just that things are (not surprisingly) done differently here. I was lent an ‘ABC of folklore’. Reading the introduction at breakfast the next day I came across a passage about the persistence and significance of folklore. The author, a respected authority, suggests that folklore offers people “hope, meaning, and comfort” [my translation], these three words struck a chord with what I had been reading, and thinking, about artistic research.
I am spending summer out in the archipelago. I should have been working at the inn where I worked last summer but I quit after one week. I combination of me being more tired than last summer and them being more disorganised made me realise that I simply could not work there. Thankfully having worked over the spring term I am not in absolute dire straights. As the house in town is being hired by a family who have ended up ‘between’ homes over the summer I am kind of forced to stay out in country. I am looking for other work but everywhere seems to have a full quota of summer staff. So in the meantime I have decided that I will prepare myself really well for the autumn term and returning to Stockholm after the summer – hence the re-reading of course texts! Other things on my summer to-do-list include: preparing all the updates for my website, updating and translating my professional cv, writing an application letter (in Swedish) looking for additional part-time teaching and art-education work.
Sweden, with its free education, can be a dangerous place for someone who loves to study. Despite saying to myself that it is time to ‘leave school’ I applied for, and have been accepted to, a part-time course in the architectural history and theory department at Mejan.