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April 15, 2014

What within the academy is artistic research?

The discussion of how to establish an artistic research environment is often mistaken for the discussion on how to create a vibrant research education which is often mistaken for the discussion on how to attract great artists to do their PhDs. But that, I believe, is an error. A research environment may have a research education as one of its components but it will have to be somewhat broader in scope than that. As part of it comes the question of what kind of activities within the academy that should count as research. This is where it gets very complicated...

On the surface of things we may accept that anything artistic produced and documented by the professors of the academy is part of the artistic research activity similar to how everything scientific produced and documented by the professors of the scientific institution is part of the research activity. However, in artistic research we tend to differentiate between artistic products and artistic research. The former can be a part of the latter but will not automatically become it. Why? One reason is political and produces a logical error: We want to introduce artistic research as a new research discipline but if art is artistic research there is no need for a new order. Art is research is artistic research. Hence, we wish to claim that art is not artistic research which we introduce as a container for art that expands what art is. Personally I am not so concerned with the politics of it, but I do believe that artistic research as an expanded scene for art production is very interesting. In particular in music where the scene for experimental and investigative explorations is very limited.

The key to expanding the production of artistic research within the academy is to allow for more artistic activities by the professors and finding a way in which these activities can be researched. If we can find the equivalent of the scientific research paper that adds value both for the institution and the researcher in art we have come a long way. What we want to achieve is to play what appears to be equal to the academic merit game but to do it on our own terms.

This may seem simple enough. Unfortunately, in music academies in Sweden we do not even have the first part of the equation ready. Professors are not artistically active, they are pedagogically active. Music academies are to a large degree focused on teaching craft rather than art and there is no natural transition for the teacher to go from teaching skill to performing art (I am playing with these words very consciously). But this also gives us the advantage of establishing this new area without having to focus too much on the form of the concert. We have the option of developing new forms of communicating senior artistic research.

Posted by henrikfr at April 15, 2014 04:16 PM


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