Artistic research! Where are we today?

DOI: 10.32063/1006

Anna Lindal

Independent violinist and artistic researcher.


Question 1: What is artistic research? What characterizes good artistic research? Can you give one example of excellent artistic research?

Question 2: How far have we come in establishing a relevant practice for artistic research regarding criteria for admission, (methodic) approach and assessment?

Question 3: The following quotation is from Manifesto of Artistic Research: A Defense Against Its Advocates (Henke et al.):

Since its beginnings in the 1990s, artistic research has been driven by politics. Without the strict academicization of courses of study in art and design as furthered by the Bologna Reform, the entity we call ‘artistic research’ could hardly have come into existence.

How would you judge the nature and consequences of the politically driven institutionalization of artistic research? Was there a thing called artistic research before the Bologna Reform, or is it simply a bureaucratic invention? In fact, is artistic research the last step in the steadily growing academization and institutionalization of the art field?

Question 4: What is research in artistic research and how does it differ from what groundbreaking artists have always been doing?

Question 5: For whom is artistic research? Who is expected to benefit from the projects and their outcomes? How should the outcomes ideally be communicated or disseminated?

Question 6: What kind of shared knowledge does artistic research produce and (how) is it falsifiable?

Question 7: In his book Artistic Research Methodologies, Mika Hannula writes that the artistic researcher must ‘develop and perfect her own artistic skills, vision and conceptual thinking … contribute to academia … by proposing an argument in the form of a thesis … and communicate with practicing artists and the larger public, performing what one could call “audience education.”’ Are the expectations to the artistic researcher both too high and hazy?

Question 8: Should artistic research be critical, or even subversive? And if yes, how and why?

Question 9: What are the challenges for the development of artistic research? Considering the development of the field so far – do you see specific areas in need of change or strengthening? Where would you like artistic research to be in 10 years?

Question 10: What can platforms such as Music & Practice do in order to help the development of artistic research?

by Anna Lindal

Music & Practice, Volume 10


Question 1

Artistic research is researching through – not on – the arts. It can very well be done as an artistic project but the difference from artistic practice is that you share your working process with peers, including exposing this process to critical reviewing, and that you document this process. Methods and theory are often defined and developed during the process and not predetermined.

Question 2

There has been a strong development in the establishing of criteria for admission of PhD-candidates and assessment of their projects. I cannot judge how well this works in admitting and assessing senior artistic research as the processes are very different in different countries.

Question 3

Leading question. Of course, the Bologna reform has changed the landscape for art education – as it has for all academia, even though the art educations have gone through a more pervasive change. For the good and for the bad. The master-apprentice culture has slowly developed into a (maybe too) structured education where you are meant to be able to define what you are supposed to achieve and what progression and comparativeness actually can be within the art field. These are basically good things. The ideas of independency and reflection are not bad things but the interpretations of what that means are sometimes very academic and non-constructive within the different educations. The art educations have as all academia a strong autonomy in defining its own criteria, methods and goals but do not always have the confidence to hold on to artistic methods and traditions when it comes to the formal parts of education.

I think we need to be clearer when we discuss these things – especially with people outside of the educational systems – that artistic research education is one thing and artistic research something else. Media and people from art fields very often don’t know the difference which confuses the conversation. Very much responsibility falls heavily on the shoulders of the PhD-students and the education.

Question 4

The only difference (if good research) is the sharing of process (and thus also possible failure and doubt in this process) and documentation. And to expose this process and its potential results to the critical scrutiny of your peers.

Question 5

Artistic research is there for those involved and interested. Dissemination is at the moment mostly through academic channels and that is perhaps natural – but sad. The institutions have not succeeded to interest or attract the ‘free’ art fields into sharing of results of artistic research in any significant way. Open public seminars, series of presentations and exhibitions/concerts/performances for a broader audience need to be part of the environment. I do think that artists and people in general are very interested in HOW or WHY things are being done in the arts – and there are pedagogical challenges within the environments of artistic research to communicate about it.

Question 6

Knowledge about artistic processes and methods. Sometimes knowledge about other areas in science through artistic tools and methodologies. I really don’t think it is falsifiable?

Question 7

Leading question: YES – so you always must choose what is coherent within your research project. But essentially all these things are not necessarily adding up more work but can be included in the research

Question 8

The concept of criticality is essential and the critique and questioning of institutions, traditions and their hierarchies is an important part of academic responsibility

Question 9

Strengthening of a meeting-peer-to-peer-culture – open seminars, peer-reviewing methods in the arts (blind review is impossible – the process of peer review has to be open and transparent to not trick some kind of objectiveness that has nothing to do with the art fields).

Question 10

Support an environment of seminars, knowledge exchange, stimulate public discussions about artistic research – doesn’t have to be a ‘positive discussion’, just transparent!