Platform for Research through the Arts and Sciences

Experiments with coauthorship in the context of the Anthropocene

Increasingly, we artists are expected to produce works of art with an accompanying press release explaining the concept of our work. But why should an artwork be reduced to a concept? Interactions with materials, tools, institutions, and landscapes all too often force us to change our plans. Isn’t a work of art primarily something that thrives in the thick mass of reality, rather than something that resides in the chamber of our brain?

The trend of a strong emphasis on ideas, reminded us that the artist is legally (and economically) considered an author, a unique individual that is the original spiritual owner of creative work. But why are some entities recognised as authors and others not? It is this question that prompted us to conduct experiments with collective authorship.

We initiated two participatory film projects, one with a Dutch fishing community and one with Maroons in Suriname, and in dialogue with them developed a script that was performed on camera by the members themselves. Nonhuman actors were to play a role in this process of co-creation as well.

The research culminated in the film works Episode of the Sea (63’, 2014) and Dee Sitonu A Weti (Stones Have Laws, 100’, 2018), and the written narrative Drifting Studio Practice in which we bring our findings from practice in conversation with the discourses of participatory film, (de)colonialism, new materialism, and (non)human rights.


Information on the filmproject Stones Have Laws (codirected with Tolin Alexander):

Information on the filmproject Episode of the Sea:

Link to the book Drifting Studio Practice:

Other partners: HKU

project link: MaHKU

link to text: “Something is There”: Filmmaking in Multiple Realities

In line with the current reorientation on the real in critical thinking, this research tries to link the achievements of critique to a renewed focus on objects, with the aim to come to a theory of practice that offers creators opportunities for constructive action and complements existing theory with insights and experiences from artistic practice. To this end artistic production is compared to production in other sectors by means of fieldwork in communities of farmers and fishermen. The empirical research is embedded in theories about fieldwork and representation from cultural anthropology as well as reflections on the worker, work and workplace of filmmakers and thinkers. Using object-oriented theory the field of research is expanded to a field of relations between people and objects. 


Funding: Mondriaan Fonds/NWO  
Supervisors: Patricia Pisters (University of Amsterdam), Henk Slager (MaHKU, Utrecht).