ON ARTISTIC RESEARCH: A TWO-DAY CONFERENCE WITH THE ART ACADEMY NETWORK DEVELOPED BY dOCUMENTA (13)
What do we mean by “artistic research”? Is research a discipline in its own right? Or is it the term used to name the knowledge leading to art? Can it be both? How does it affect art history and writing? How does it challenge the agency we assume art has in society? Can research be taught?
Artists, like scientists, are pioneers when it comes to creating new forms of connectivity between worlds that seem to have nothing in common. They embark on writing novels, conceiving treatises, discovering archives, devising therapies, and choreographing bodies—that is, they embark on the endless study of everything that contributes to the different formulations of what we call reality. It would be dismissive to describe all this as mere play. We find ourselves, rather, facing a strange form of research that is more aware than ever of the parallels between producing art and understanding the world. Ever since Marcel Duchamp, and perhaps much earlier—indeed, possibly for as long as it has existed—art has been eager to accommodate a knowledge that is different from academic knowledge and to provide the ultimate reason for modifying that academic knowledge. Much contemporary art attempts to develop works and situations that make it possible to read the past freely, to take flight and approach the unknown. Taking artistic research seriously means accepting disorganization in the relations between the disciplines with which contemporary art deals. The rise of cultural studies, critical theory, and the many variations of the post-Marxist understanding of the relationship between art and economics are the fruit of an ungrounded—though perhaps historically necessary—confidence in the possibility of first unraveling and then stabilizing the meaning of what happens in a work of art, as well as the “creative” process as a whole. Artistic research now aims to recognize the importance and explore the consequences of the following statement: meaning emerges from fiction.