Thematic Lines 2016–2019
In 2016-2019, three ARIAS steering groups articulated three main research themes in line with the former focus of the national science agenda: arts and the city, and health, and education.
Arts & the City departed from the idea of the city as a site of research in which academics and artists work together to turn Amsterdam into a proper creative city; one that is more than just a slogan used to cloak an actual decrease in the support of cultural institutions. Taking Amsterdam as a case study both the density of ‘cosmopolitical’ problems in the area were analysed as well as the reservoir of creativity that the city contains; making it a fruitful testing ground for the creation of for example cooperative models and of community forming.
The topic was explored among others through questions of heritage in the (still ongoing) revaluation of archives through the ‘Artists and Archivists’ projects, in the lecture series ‘Platform Imaginaries’, and in the 2-year Creative Commoning (2020-22) research set up by a coalition of Amsterdam partners being awarded a Smart Cultures grant in the summer of 2019.
Although art and medicine may be divergent practices they can intersect in unexpected and meaningful ways. In Arts & Health, artists and humanities scholars collaborated with medical staff, medical scientists, psychiatrists, and patients to investigate what it means to be human in a techno-mediated world. Rather than focusing exclusively on the utilitarian function of interacting with art or partaking in artistic practices for improving people’s health, it sought to investigate what ‘having a healthy life’ and what ‘being ill’ might mean in today’s world.
The question was unfolded in a five-part series of events titled ‘SAY AAAAH!’ Also, artist and neuropsychologist Janneke van Leeuwen undertook doctoral research in visual art and social neuroscience at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology in London in collaboration with Rietveld Academie (PhD, 2020).
‘Art, Research & Education’ brought together researchers interested in the way arts and design research can operate at the intersection of cultural production, education, and innovation, in connection with scientific disciplines. This group focused on how generating different articulations of knowledge production would demand new approaches to education and formulated the ambition to extend art research into a variety of pedagogical contexts in Amsterdam.
The peer-to-peer learning environment for artistic research THIRD came into existence at the AHK Graduate School in 2016. What started as the focus of this steering group – extending art research and various ways of knowing into educational contexts in Amsterdam – is now weaved into ARIAS DNA.
ARIAS doesn’t assume these topics to be exhaustible or done with when formulating other thematic umbrellas for 2020-23. Today’s social, political, ecological currents ask for the re-articulation of our attention. Within the newly identified frames, city, health and education-related issues reappear most certainly. In view of all those affected by the presence of covid-19, another light sets on arts and health humanities, in search of finding new ways of co-living with the virus (just one of many examples).
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