I have just received the exciting news that I have a place on a short course that I recently applied for. Sixteen years after finishing at the Slade I will be back at art school! The course – An Introduction to Artistic Research – is at Konstfack, is part-time over twenty weeks and is in English. Making the application I realised just how much has changed in the academic art world since my time at the Slade, back then artistic and practice-based research was in its infancy even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. Now it seems so established with its own distinct methodologies, terminology and networks.
This particular course intrigues me and I hope it will enable me to work out how my practice might sit within a research context. In the past I have been sceptical about the idea of using terms such as research to describe a/my practice, preferring to insist that my practice (all of it) is art and that art necessarily includes a great deal of research. I am therefore very interested to see in what way my practice can maintain its identity as art and at the same time contribute to what is a distinct academic discipline. Perhaps I am more confident than I previously was that my practice is sufficiently secure and established within itself to shape the idea of research rather than being shaped by the idea(s) of research.
It will be very interesting to find out if I am capable of doing the two different things at the same time – it feels as though it will be a little like patting my head with one hand while rubbing my tummy with the other! I mean that I want to keep making art and I want to see how it works as “research” – which to me two different activities being carried out by the same body. Already I am thinking about the applications to other courses that I have made over the years and how I have often times tried to fit my art in to what I imagine pre-existing frameworks to be, my aim for this course is to test out how I develop my practice on my terms in the context of artistic research and to investigate where this might lead.
One of the other students on the course is Ingrid who (with Anna) I have been working with for the last year on our Sandcastles in Greece project. I also noticed from the email list that another artist who was at the meeting when I met both Anna and Ingrid will be on the course too!
Taking a hard-copy application to Konstfack was interesting in and of itself. I experienced a very real sense of excitement as I approached the building, just as I did when I have previously visited KKH (Stockholm’s Royal College of Art). I really enjoy being in places of learning: schools, museums, libraries, and for me art school is the ultimate. On the day that I delivered my application I had also arranged to pick up the final version of the Ljusfältet film from the filmmaker who lives nearby, I was early and waited in the college café. It is hard to describe the senses of rightness and belonging I have at such times – I remember it was the same when I had lunch in the café at KKH before meeting the research coordinator there. The phrase ‘being institutionalised’ is often and popularly loaded with negative connotations and I am aware that I can make my friends squirm a little when I say that I long to be institutionalised … I mean, of course, being an active member of a good and healthy educational or research institution, a place of enquiry, collaboration and potential. I am absolutely delighted that for twenty weeks from the first of February I will be, albeit part-time, institutionalised again!