In this presentation I will reflect on “In Between,” an exhibition project I curated at Hafnarborg museum in 2011. Aiming to provide an alternative to curating practices on the one hand and academic research on the other, the project explored the possibility of moving beyond the dichotomies of practice vs. theory, intuition vs. knowledge, artistic practice vs. scholarly practice. It was the output of a collaborative working process involving a group of contemporary artists and scholars from the field of humanities and social sciences, reflecting on the concepts of collecting, wonder and knowledge. The project was rooted in the Renaissance, drawing on the history of museums as public institutions with particular attention to curiosity cabinets and the dawn of the scientific revolution. Employing an institutional critique approach, my intention was to create a platform for artists and scholars to examine the historical and cultural context of the means and modes of knowledge production within the particular context of museums. Central to the project was the juxtaposition of universities and museums as institutions for the production and dissemination of knowledge. Being a PhD student wanting to place academic work a cultural sphere, I found myself oscillating between the two contexts. Both are vehicles for fostering and hosting research, although museums tend to present themselves as repositories of knowledge while universities like to think of themselves as producers of knowledge. In many ways, the Renaissance curiosity cabinet can be seen as a common denominator between the two, being an attempt to make sense of the hitherto unknown world in an empirical, tangible way; through the process of collecting, storing and displaying of natural and artificial objects.
In this presentation I will describe the curatorial process as epistemic practice, with particular attention to the visual artwork made for the exhibition and their situatedness in the museum space.
The Border Complex: Investigating Spaces of Transition and Permanence.
National borders are ultimately imaginary constructs, whether topographically based or conceptually drawn. Frontier lines are forcibly introduced into highly fragile ecosystems and frequently separate common indigenous communities through a series of manufactured filters, restraints, voids, and junctures. Borders as such represent very real manifestations of human frustration and intransigence. Centuries of creating confines, building and dismantling borders, erecting fences and walls, digging channels and tunnels has contributed little in the understanding the long term impact of such divisive practices. The more a nation improves its passage and barrier technologies, surveillance and armed patrols, the more a community on the flip side invents ways of getting around them.
Exchange above all is the factor that most dynamically plays on inequalities, deficiencies, surpluses and human resources that build up on one side or the other. All of these factors weigh heavily in developing the hierarchy of transient and permanent spaces, contributing to a situation of instability and crisis that are precisely the defining terms of the contemporary border complex. Projects include participatory programs developed together with students and a local border community, specific proposals for survival strategies related to border crossings in the Rio Grande Valley, and investigations into housing and living structures for refugee communities from different global regions.
Discussing Questions about Method when using Art Practice as Research outside Art World
Arts-based and artistic research methods raise questions about validity in research, questions about difference between art as art practice and art as a method in research. Arts-based methods are mainly used in research in art education and in a field of various art practices. Using arts-based research methods is like being a bricoleur, someone putting together parts from here and there and forming a new picture made of old elements.
My presentation has a focus on arts-based research applied to a field of religious studies. I am exploring ideas of early Quakers about heaven (The Kingdom of God / The Peaceable Kingdom) and how those views were expressed in the art works of Edward Hicks (1780 – 1849). My presentation has a strong visual emphasis and claims that visual language can create knowledge that stays hidden in other forms of presentations. I also ask when an image is a work of art and when the same image can be looked upon as either as data or a result of research.
Articulating experiential knowledge
The body is not yet fully recognized in the process of knowledge creation in today’s society, where cognitive abilities are valued and stressed. In contrast to this, the creative fields, including art, craft and design, but also sports, music and theatre, are concerned with knowledge gathered through bodily experience. This experiential knowledge relies on sensorial information that is situated, subjective and often implicit and thus evades the explicit formulations that are required in academia. In this Practice-Led studio based research, a craft practitioner explored her experiential knowledge through throwing clay blindfolded for five continuous days. She reflected on her enhanced tactile experiences in order to elicit her explicit knowledge of the throwing process. She video-recorded the activity and her own speech as she tried to verbalize all her knowledge of the situation. The researcher then analysed the video sessions by protocol analysis. She found that the video was a useful method to revisit her embodied experience of the throwing situation, and worked as a recall interview of her sensory experiences. The video recording also enabled a slow motion analysis of the events that were too rich in content to have been verbalized in the situation of making.