An archive of arts and research news & reflections on ARIAS events from each season.

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Writing Worlds: Debate about Creative Writing in Research – Review

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22 February: ART-KNOWLEDGE #1
Writing Worlds: Debate about Creative Writing in Research
ARIAS & KNAW

 

“What can artists gain from entering the community of academic writers? What can scholars and scientists learn from different forms of writing, such as poetry, prose and science fiction narratives?”

 

These were the questions that brought various names from different spheres of art, research and writing together on February 22nd, for the first instalment of the Art-Knowledge lecture series by ARIAS and KNAW, the event featured readings and deeper discussions on how art, research and writing collide in our modern times, as well as how they reflect in the Dutch education system of today.

 

Kicking off the event was Belfast-born writer Maria Fusco, with excerpts from her latest book “Give Up Art”. By zeroing in on the position of the writer as a “creator of new beings” and touching upon the how the ideas of constriction and consistency play into the creation process, Fusco outlined today’s author’s newfound status, which she ascribed as somewhere in between the poetical and the analytic. Introducing the idea of anonymity as a useful tool for allowing the writing to exceed the writer, Fusco shared her observations of the new topologies surrounding creative writing, echoing Judith Butler and Gilles Deleuze. Suggesting that one must gather an arsenal of tools to write with – sometimes even going as further to contruct the tools themselves, Fusco emphasized the importance of “amateurism” and outlined her stance on experimental writing and how that ties into the arts.

 

Dutch poet, visual artist and writer Maria Barnas was next – talking about how the fabric of reality is tied to descriptions and images, Barnas mused on how our language and knowledge of the world is shapen by this relationship. By situating language at the heart of her work, Barnas shared her thought on how production, perception and reflection play into the relationship between writing and object development, as well as the concept of art writing as a tool for writing “with” art or “to” art, rather than writing “about” art.

 

The third contribution of the evening was by Zurich-based artist and researcher Tine Melzer, whose latest work features a “réunion imaginaire” between Ludwig Wittgenstein and Gertrude Stein, which she described as a meeting of analytical and poetical minds. Drawing upon Wittgenstein’s theory of “language as a game”, Melzer progressed this philosophical investigation by referring to one of her previous works titled “Aspect Change”, where she explored the relationship between language and image, language as a shared practice and as a host for the imagination.

 

Concluding the evening was Miriam Rasch, who started out by reflecting on our digitally mediated times and remarked upon alternative forms of writing, such as writing through the medium (be it an Excel worksheet, Facebook updates or text messages) and how language lives in online spaces, providing insight towards both sides of the argument. By introducing the central question of “How do we write when we write online?”, Rasch expanded on her upcoming work “Shadowbook” and how “the dark side” of writing online is at the core of it, with particular focus on what happens to language within the confines of the digital. Describing her methodology as “researching writing by way of writing”, Rasch further explained how she frames these narratives as pieces of autofiction that border within the self, as well as talking about her new book “Zwemmen in de Oceaan”.





Arts & Health: Debate About Artistic Research & Cultures of Care – Review

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29 March: ART-KNOWLEDGE #2
Arts & Health: Debate About Artistic Research & Cultures of Care
ARIAS & KNAW

 

Focused on arts and health, the second instalment of the KNAW & ARIAS Art-Knowledge lecture series took place on March 19th, bringing together Yvonne Dröge Wendel, Ana Maria Gomez Lopez, Rachel Spronk and Paul Gomes to explore how artistic research and cultures of care intersect.

 

Moderated by Patricia Pisters, the evening began with German artist Yvonne Dröge Wendel and her introduction to her work De Coupé, an installation in the form of a real life train compartment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. With seats that do not face each other and countryside footage outside the window, ‘De Coupé’ explores the idea of “doing nothing.” Reminiscing about the initial steps of the project, Wendel spoke of how they started out with by observing the old patients in the nursing homes to answer the question: “What do old people want to do?”

 

Focusing on patients that were heavier cases who had difficulty with simple daily tasks, Wendel explained that they set out to explore the idea of “doing nothing”, specifically the most pleasant, beautiful, accepted form of doing nothing, with as little input as possible. Describing ‘De Coupé’ as a “calming experience”, Wendel shed light on the logic behind the artwork, offering a behind the scenes look at the challenges of bringing art into a care space. Her presentation concluded with a question to the audience: how do complex art projects like De Coupé find institutional embedding?

 

Wendel was followed by Ana Maria Gomez Lopez, who began with an anecdote featuring Nobel winning surgeon Werner Forssmann, who developed a procedure that allowed cardiac catheterization by self-experimenting. Inspired by Forssmann’s story, Lopez began working on her most recent project ‘Punctum’ – with which she aims to explore and question the limitations of her body by self-experimenting, by way of using a medical set-up to exteriorize the circulatory system. Lopez continued by expanding upon how self-experimentation can radically rearrange and change certain conventions, allowing us to question their corporeal normativization in the medical world.

 

The third and final contribution of the evening was by Rachel Spronk and Paul Gomes. A professor of anthropology and a film director respectively, the duo’s collaboration zeroed in on the story of a leper colony in Nigeria with the underlying themes of poverty, conflict and migration. Spronk began by remarking on how Africa is often portrayed in a negative light in the mass media worldwide. Explaining that they set out to change that outlook, Spronk detailed how their “medical mission” came together by painting a picture of the remote, small village and its residents — who could be regarded as ghostlike castaways at the first glance, but have managed to thrive socially and form a new community of their own, forming intra-ethnic and intra-religious bonds.

 

Gomes, whose work explores personal issues, migration and the notion of “home”, went on to explain how the focus of their story switched to the clinic in the leper colony, which, through the efforts of its dedicated staff, turned itself into a general hospital. Supplementing their story with various types of footage from the clinic, Gomes remarked upon the intricacies of representing concrete issues of life and death, as well as producing work that avoids stereotyping its subjects.





ARIAS x DRIFT: Art, Writing and Philosophy – Review

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13 April: ARIAS x DRIFT: Art, Writing and Philosophy

 

Taking place at Lab111’s Kapel room with Amal Chatterjee, Josef Früchtl and moderator Divya Nadkarni, the ARIAS x DRIFT Art, Writing and Philosophy panel offered its audience an “after hours” exploration into the themes of artistic research, scientific and creative thinking and writing.

 

Kicking off the discussion was Divya Nadkarni, who began by asking “What place does art research have in academic disciplines?”. By situating art as more than just an object for analysis, the speakers first delved into the bird versus worm metaphor (which was also one of the themes of the festival) and expanded upon how the roles have been reversed – the worm has now become the predator, the storyteller. In that regard, they discussed the meaning and place of artistic research as an intersection of the way we grasp the world.

 

Writer and academic Amal Chatterjee continued the conversation by bringing up an important point about the differing perspectives one can assume from academic and “writerly” stances. Explaining that the academic point of view allows us to see art as “representation”, he explained that the writer sets that gaze aside and establishes a more personal relationship with it. Chatterjee further outlined the process of the “writerly” standpoint – the writer creates an artifact and has to let it go and reconcile his idea of perfection with it. The perfectionist idea has to be destroyed and the writer moves on, while the scientist or the philosopher would not dream of doing that, they are ready to discuss their work and dispute their critics.

 

Connecting that theme to philosophy at large, Professor Josef Früchtl spoke at length about how the intersection of art and philosophy always produces multiple points that inform the individual, stressing the inter-related nature. Explaining the “multiple, multifarious and multifaceted” tendencies of art, Früchtl described philosophy in relation to it as something that “seeks to create different languages to look at the world.” Früchtl then went on to mention how prominent names like Nietzsche and Derrida had an intrinsic connection to literature in their work, as well as talking about Plato, who “exiled literature and art” in his utopian view of society, but himself wrote what is now termed “philosophical literature”.

 

The panel then went on to expand on the role of artistic research in this diagram, as well as how it constitutes a new phase for art, science and literature. Früchtl commented on how the relationship between the three disciplines is based on differentiation and how it presents a challenge for those looking to distinguish it. Describing artistic research as a tool that invites and challenges us to think more precisely about what research means, Früchtl explained how it borrows the rich perspective, perception and understanding of art and opens up the lane for further discussion and exploration.

 

 

Bringing up Michel Foucault as a figure who stands at the intersection of art and science, Früchtl commented on the revolutionary powers of the two disciplines and how their intersection could provide completely new ways of looking at the world and brought the panel to a conclusion by stating that there a lot of progress to be made in this new and promising avenue.





 

Arts & Ecologies: Politics & Poetics of Moving Materials – Review

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April 19: ART-KNOWLEDGE #3
Arts & Ecologies: Politics & Poetics of Moving Materials
ARIAS & KNAW

 

An evening dedicated to discussing and exploring how the arts and artistic research contribute to planetary-scale questions of ecological transformation and disaster, this the third edition of the ARIAS and KNAW lecture series took place at Literair Theater Perdu, with the contributions of Adam Nocek, Isabelle Andriessen, Katja Kwastek, Ginette Verstraete, Joost Adriaanse and Ester van de Wiel.

 

The event was introduced by Kristine Steenbergh, who sketched the possible contributions of the arts to ecological issues with examples of research conducted at the Environmental Humanities Center at the VU. The first contribution by Adam Nocek offered an overview of how geophysical systems can intersect with the narratives through which we understand the world. Nocek further situated his line of reasoning by focusing on the idea of myths and how they can be dissected as sources of information that contribute to our understanding of the Earth’s natural history. By coupling myths and artistic practice, Nocek expanded on the way “elemental media” come to surface, where multiple layers of planetary scale computing and governance intersect, which he called geocommunication. Arguing that myths are part of the intelligence and genealogy of geocommunication, Nocek explained how the emerging field of geomythology explores the Earth’s transformations over time. Geomyths are increasingly becoming the subject of scientific scrutiny, as they can also be considered as “noisy channels” that carry information.

 

Nocek was followed by Dutch artist Isabelle Andriessen, interviewed on stage by prof. Katja Kwastek, who spoke about her practice of producing sculptures that decompose and transform while on display. Drawing her inspiration from the intersections of nature and technology, Andriessen explained the process that goes into making her sculptures sweat and decompose, which also involved getting into contact with chemists an scientists across different fields to achieve the intended effect. “I always attempt to make the work ‘move’.”  Andriessen’s presentation was followed by a display of two synthetic “perfume” samples, as well as tryouts of skin-resembling ceramics used in her exhibitions.

 

Finally, the team members of the ‘Re-source research project’ (Joost Adriaanse, Ginette Verstraete and Ester van de Wiel) take the stage. Collaborating on a joint project that focuses on the journey of resources in a given industry and situation of resource scarcity, Ginette Verstraete spoke for the trio and presented the audience with a large scale map of their work. Explaining that they work with and through the city, Verstraete commented on their use of scale for the visualization of residual materials and their journey through the city. Adriaanse continued by stating that their work is situated somewhere between explaining the reality and explaining the possibilities. Following up on Adriaanse’s comments, Ester van de Wiel added that their objectives for this resource related project also included getting a clear sense of location and all the actors that were involved, proceeding to explain the flows that were displayed to the audience in meticulous detail. 





 

Arts & Education: New Sites and Concepts for Radical Pedagogies in the Arts – Review

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May 31: ART-KNOWLEDGE #4
Arts & Education: New Sites and Concepts for Radical Pedagogies in the Arts
ARIAS & KNAW

 

What’s next in art and education? How are contemporary arts engaging in education, and how do practitioners from art and education respond to the issues of today? The final evening of the Art Knowledge series aimed to answer these questions, with the contributions of Jurgen Bey, Josien Pieterse & Amal Alhaag, Jorge Lucero and René Boer.

Moderated by Marijke Hoogenboom, the evening began with Sandberg Instituut’s Jurgen Bey, who began by talking about our relationship with education. Situating education and knowledge at the heart of our journeys of discovery, development and decision-making, Bey proceeded to question how we need to decide on what is necessary and what is not. Stressing that technologies such as VR and AR have changed our “reach” in terms of knowledge, Bey spoke of how we now explain our so-called reality through culture. By situating ourselves “a minute” away from our reality, as in the example of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, Bey suggested that taking such a stance could improve our perspective. Jurgen Bey continued to set the stage for the following speakers by talking about the “humility” that comes with being a student, whereas he himself was of the opinion that the culmination of each individual in such an environment actually formed a large system, one that has the potential to have an impact on the city and the structures to which it belongs. We should be much more aware of the fact that students make up an large number of the Amsterdam population and that changing students’ ways of housing and studying can bring radical change to the city of Amsterdam. Bey concluded his introduction by stressing that education should be seen as more than something that is “given”, but something that we need to “act on”.

 

Josien Pieterse and Amal Alhaag were next to take the stage, with Pieterse beginning to outline the details of their concrete proposal for education, focusing on a “public” master’s programme that offers collective learning opportunities. Alhaag continued by emphasizing the fact that the difference between Western and non-Western art has outlived itself, where the line between who is represented, who makes decisions and whose issues are discussed is increasingly blurred. By focusing on identifying ideal practices, Alhaag and Pieterse reported that they focused on four issues, namely canonizing art, rewriting history, local contact points and local cultures. Alhaag also expanded on the practices adopted at Framer Framed, where they feature works that each disclose a story and question in themselves. By featuring a variety of voices, topics, domains and perspective, Framer Framed emerges as a social domain, where it is possible to learn openly and think together. Following up on this idea with the Side Room initiative, Alhaag explained that it aims to think outside of institutional critiques and encourages learning differently, intersectionally and in a communal, playful way that enables skill sharing.

 

 

Following Alhaag and Pieterse was artist and educator Jorge Lucero, who began with an account of how he began teaching and expanded upon the importance of being “playful” within institutional contexts, as well as developing the ability to be institutionally literate. By being institutionally literate, he explained, it would be possible to read what is happening, what types of mechanisms, power dynamics, and pedagogical strategies are at play within an institution. Lucero followed up on his conceptual explanations with concrete examples from his work, namely “Folding Collages”, wherein he folds certain images from magazines and scans them, creating what he terms “descaled, playful work(s)”, as well as Slow Instagram (where he screenshots low-resolution images from loading Instagram pictures), and his in-class practice, “Teach Anything”, where his students are urged to teach something they have expertise in, from the Heimlich Maneuver to stargazing.

 

The last contribution of the evening was by René Boer, who spoke about his work on embedded educational experiments, with the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS) at its core. A discussion based, shared learning environment that is set in a caravansarai in Cairo, CILAS was part of the booming number of art centers and political collectives that emerged after the Egyptian revolution. Providing an overview of the institute’s background in inception in Cairo, Boer spoke of how it works towards re-imagining higher education and returning to the city. Boer continued expanding on the current status of CILAS and then introduced his Zeeburgereiland project, which serves as an arts and education space with a master’s programme of its own.





 

Arts and Research in the News

Metropolis M Interview with Jeroen Boomgaard & Flora Lysen

 

 

 

UvA Faculty of Humanities Magazine Interview with Jeroen Boomgaard

 

 

 

Universonline.nl – “Painting your PhD: can art be science?”