Let’s talk about visual, performance, and practice-based arts

It’s a grey morning in October, when shortly after 10 a.m. five Junior Fellows meet for a virtual coffee and tea. Little by little, they all enter the virtual room and greet each other with a good morning. On the computer screen you see friendly faces, which also show a little bit of tiredness. The members of the work group „Artistic Research” meet every two weeks to exchange about their (doctoral) projects. But first, the focus shifts to the well-being of all participants. Sophie Lembcke is based in Berlin and at the time of the Zoom meeting the Corona situation in the capital is very tense. The case numbers of Covid-19-infected people are increasing every day and therefore it is important for the participants to ask each other: Are you feeling alright

They quickly drift off, remembering a visit to the Berlin Biennale a few weeks earlier. In September they were able to participate in cultural life. Junior Fellows from Bayreuth travelled to Berlin together, where Sophie welcomed them for a visit. For three days they explored different exhibitions.

„That’s simply something completely different than always staring at the screen, especially when it comes to art” (- Sophie) 

Together, the memories are being nourished, because the next (partial) lockdown came sooner than expected and cultural institutions, museums and exhibition spaces must remain closed again.

Back to the digital space: today Valerie Gruber will present her research, emphasising the aspect of art. What is special about the BIGSAS work groups is that all the participants conduct very different kinds of research, which nevertheless overlap and show some similarities. In the case of the work group „Artistic Research” it is primarily the focus on visual, performance, and practice-based arts.

Berlin Biennale, Gropius Bau

Berlin Biennale, Gropius Bau

Artistic research as a tool for transformation

The work group creates a space for the artist-researcher to navigate between bubbles of communities and bubbles of knowledge, for that they are translating and reframing forms of knowledge. It also focusses on the methods of artistic research as well as developing idiosyncratic methodologies. By engaging with questions of knowledge production to and within academia, the group deals with views on how and where and to whom knowledge is created. After all, artistic research is also a tool for (political, social) transformation.

At 10:20 am all participants are online, and Valerie starts talking about her project in Latin America (click here for more information). Together they ask the question: „What does artistic research mean for our current projects?” In Valerie’s case, the performative triggers the political sphere and can thus lead to political change. All Junior Fellows listen with excitement, sometimes only the participants’ hair is visible, as they focus on a piece of paper writing down notes. At 10:50 a.m. Sophie continues, shares her thoughts, shows videos and encourages a debate: Does academic activism exist? In the meantime, questions are asked and after both presentations, the Junior Fellows enter a joint discussion. Today, the focus lies on decolonial practices, how one can stretch and question the boundaries in research and science, and above all, to what extent art and artistic research is used as a tool to slowly but surely overcome limits and restrictions.

The work groups at BIGSAS (an overview can be found here) offer a space for networking and exchange. Quite often, practical ideas like events or even the publication of a BIGSASworks! issue are born. In BIGSAS, different people come together, all of whom have gone through a different academic and personal journey. The imprint that the doctoral candidates have experienced leads not least to the choice of the doctoral thesis topic that one will be working on at the end. Work groups serve as a platform to change one’s perspective, to rethink one’s own project and even to make new acquaintances and friends. Work groups thus offer an opportunity for further growth and thinking, even if the exchange (currently) takes place in the digital space. 

The Work Group “Artistic Research” consists of seven members, who are Nikitta Adjirakor, Khadija Benthami, Valerie Gruber, Shaden Kamel, Sophie Lembcke, Dandara Maia Schellenberg, Lena Naumann. Click here to read more about the presented group. 

Go ahead and engage in WGs

The plans of the work groups are being followed with excitement, and who knows, maybe YOU too would like to found a WG? More information about the work groups can be accessed here. Questions can be directed to BIGSAS at any time. 


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