The revised edition of Reclaiming Artistic Research delves into the realm of artistic inquiry through engaging dialogues with 24 artists worldwide, challenging conventional academic notions tied to the term. By spotlighting artists' various interactions with diverse disciplines, it highlights various modes of knowing and unknowing intrinsic to contemporary artistic exploration, spanning material, spatial, embodied, organizational, choreographic, and technological realms. This updated edition includes fresh insights from the author and four additional artist conversations, examining the evolving landscape of artistic research amidst the backdrop of global crises such as the pandemic, societal justice movements, the rise of artificial intelligence, and the pressing issue of climate change.

The following excerpt from the conversation between the editor of the volume Lucy Cotter and the curator Natasha Ginwala entitled ‘History as a Question’ deals with the methodology of artistic research and significant changes in the approach to it.

Lucy Cotter: Artists have always researched. In that sense, the demarcation of artistic research articulates something in existence, rather than being something new as such. Yet when I am working with emerging artists and art students, I feel that there is a distinct generational shift concerning how artists use and regard research within their practice. Do you see some kind of shift in the young artists’ practices that has to do with artistic research?

Natasha Ginwala: Yes, I do believe in this generational voice, which is one that is aware of the way that research can become a working surface. I see a more conscious approach toward dealing with historical material in particular. I think this has a lot to do with how pedagogy has changed. There are far more interdisciplinary thinkers and teachers entering art schools and courses, who provide an environment for this generational voice to appear. What is being read now in critical theory has also so much to do with a kind of art and science collision, with social scientists updating their ideas and using visual vocabulary to mobilize their ideas. There is a whole range of events taking place in the intellectual sphere, which are very conscious of critical theory and very close to it; that proximity has increased radically in the past ten to fifteen years. This shift is visible in the work of the artists who are now gaining some form of recognition. Of course, the making of art continues to involve material research–what kind of paper you are going to use, which frame, etc. – which is of equal importance to going to an ethnological museum and going through archives. I wouldn’t separate those activities; I would call them all research. I was just talking to someone at a conference, who was suspicious of artists using archives; he commented that there is a lot of nostalgia. Yes, some artists are superficial in their approach to archives, but what I am talking about is not a simplistic take on research. It is not just picking and choosing from an archive and making some kind of collage. The generation I work with is constantly deconstructing knowledge. It is in their makeup to use archives the way one would conceive a drawing. This is how they conceive their ideas, through other subject fields. It is not separate.

LC: Yes, that’s an important distinction. It’s less about making an artwork and then researching something within the work, it’s more often now about moving within other subject fields and the work partly emerging from that encounter. I am interested in how Landings, your curatorial collaboration with Vivian Ziherl, makes space for that shift and works with it. (Note: From 2013–15, Ginwala and Ziherl led the multi-part curatorial project Landings presented at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, David Roberts Art Foundation, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (as part of the Tagore, Pedagogy and Contemporary Visual Cultures Network), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and other partner organizations.) I remember being struck by your openness to show art in a state of fragmentation or flux in Sensing Grounds: Mangroves, Unauthentic Belonging and Extra-territoriality (2013) at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, for example, which was one of the first presentations of this multi-part project. This, again, I feel was a generational shift. Young artists do not use a “research aesthetic” in the explicit way that previous generations have done, but they may include more source material in their work or show something in a more raw state, which may shift again into another state in a subsequent artwork.

NG: I think that’s a very important point. If you are an independent curatorial project like Landings, your infrastructure is not a site but mental connections and relationships with others. It’s much more committed to the questions artists come along with. It is committed to the question of how to find a form for an artistic project, which is an ongoing process. How are artists able to find forms that are not going to blow the display budget but focus on the microscopic reading of what they are primarily interested in? There is a live-ness in bringing in this vocabulary, in using film, in bringing together performance and source material. All of the Landings displays are focused on making that live quality happen so that it’s not a kind of academic research that needs to be in a PhD format. It’s not about turning the artist into a PhD researcher. But the fact is that the Landings projects have constantly brought academics together with artists and this has brought about conversations that have in turn become source material for their next work, or for new kinds of collaborations.

The entire conversation with Natasha Ginwala, as well as numerous other conversations that Lucy Cotter conducted as part of her publication, can be found in our new publication Reclaiming Artistic Research.

Lucy Cotter, born in Cork, Ireland, is a many-sided practitioner and theorist, blurring the lines between making, thinking, writing, and curating. With academic credentials including a Ph.D. in Cultural Analysis, her work delves into the cultural agency of curating in a complex world. Noteworthy curatorial projects include the Dutch Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale and the transnational project "Here as the Centre of the World." As a prolific writer, she has contributed to various publications and edited volumes, exploring themes of art's relationship with non-knowledge. Cotter's creative endeavors extend to exhibitions of her own artistic work and experimental plays, alongside directing educational programs and teaching internationally at prestigious institutions.

Natasha Ginwala
, born in Ahmedabad, India, is a curator, researcher, and writer known for her work in contemporary art and social justice. She has held key roles at institutions such as Gropius Bau Berlin, where she served as Associate Curator at Large (2018 – 2024), and as Artistic Director of Colomboscope, Sri Lanka (since 2019). Ginwala co-curated the Sharjah Biennial 16 and served as Artistic Director of the 13th Gwangju Biennale alongside Defne Ayas (2021). 

Lucy Cotter – Reclaiming Artistic Research | Hatje Cantz

Header imgaes: Lucy Cotter © Mario Gallucci/ Natasha Ginwala © Victoria Tomaschko

Veröffentlicht am: 24.04.2024