The laboratories and playrooms to unfold knowledge – Serge von Arx – Norway

Serge von Arx, (Architect and Professor), is the artistic director of the scenography department of the Norwegian Theatre Academy (at Østfold University College), and external professor at the Danish National School of Performing Arts. He is a member of various boards, notably for the Norwegian Artistic Research Program, and the Scandinavian Artistic Research Journal VIS.

In my visit to Norway we meet at one of the school’s Oslo offices to converse on the subject of Artistic Research, from a Norwegian perspective based on his extensive experience, Serge explains his viewpoints as an educator, observer and facilitator, rather than seeing himself as a practitioner, something that he finds amusing but which has also given him the opportunity to study the field in depth as it expands in the Nordic countries, without depending on the results of these changes for his own artistic development.

Of the embodiment of new insight he refers to as an opportunity, mainly, to create laboratories “and playrooms” that allow for collective thinking rather than the already obsolete solo-hero-story, which plagues the art world. In sharing input and output, perspectives and diverse approaches, we find ourselves at a powerful turning point in not one but many fields of collaboration and as a society… but he is also quick in highlighting that in these opportunities lay also very clear political interests, and why we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the titles and easy opportunities of an academic new entrance, if what we really are, is artists seeking to make art.

Special thanks to Serge for his support in this investigation, for this interview, and for the consulting done throughout the process.

Quantum Society – Sara Gebran (DK)

Sara Gebran is Lebanese / Venezuelan / Danish lecturer, choreographer, dancer and writer residing in Copenhagen and skillfully navigating these fields through a combination of research, pedagogy and artistic practice. Sara’s works are situated within performance art, exploring medias such as video, photography, sound, architecture, radio, and text, mediated by the dancing body, present or not.

She has been studying forms of collective empowerment, through her performances, writing, lectures, teaching, and book publications.

In our sessions, which were several, as I asked Sara Gebran to be my external mentor for this Ecology of Artistic Research investigation, we speak of pulling the performative aspect out of the paper and into the world. How can my investigation, all these interviews, the research and conclusions, and even the findings, be presented so that they are activated upon being encountered by an audience?

She says, looking at my reflection map, for example, that what she sees is a choreography. An already defined series of movements that connect thoughts to ideas, and ideas to practice.

When speaking of artistic research, she suggests approaching the field as a means to an end, if we are already certain of our practice and the territories we want to explore further. “Stay with your desire” she recommends as her final piece of advice which connects the puzzle together.

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Sensuous Society: SISTERS HOPE (DK)

Gry Worre Hallberg operates in the intersection of performance art, research, activism and educational development continuously executed in 1:1 co-created experiments such as Sisters Academy, Dome of Visions, and In100Y. She is behind the vision and movement Sensuous society and for many years she has aimed at enriching environments with an aesthetic dimension through interventionist, interactive and immersive performance art strategies. Gry is the co-founder of a range of organizations and movements within the field of performance art applied in a series of different everyday-life contexts, among them Sisters Hope (ongoing project: Sisters Academy), House of Futures, Fiction Pimps, Club de la Faye, Staging Transitions and The Poetic Revolution.

Democratizing the aesthetic. Opening the sensuous. These are some of the concerns that poetic sisters Gry Worre Hallberg and Anna Lawaetz were focusing on, when creating Sisters Hope, over 20 years ago, a project which is centered in the liminal spaces of art, research and pedagogy. It started first as interventional performances, then workshops, and soon after, into the first Sisters Academy. This led to the Sensuous Society Manifesto, written in 2008 as a response to the ongoing ecological crisis. The rest is history.

“All Sisters Hope manifestations, all performers in a way, donate their bodies to explore altenatives that are also theoretically bound, and gives me the language to understand some of the dynamics of the aesthetics space”.

“I felt also, when doing my PhD, that it was like immersing myself, within a theoretical framework, but it was also a deepdive into a landscape of thought, which I don’t have when I produce aesthetic manifestations. (…) When I am immersed in the aesthetic universe, that’s when the deepest ideas occur. I acknowledge that each requires its own space, but the very deep thinking happens within the aesthetic practices.”

Transversal Knowledge Assemblage – Kristoffer Gansing (DK)

Kristoffer Gansing is professor of Artistic Research and director of the International Center for Knowledge in the Arts. 

Due to his academic and curatorial / artistic background, Kristoffer Gansing has always paid close attention to aesthetics as much as to the content, which is what has led him to find a career in transdisciplinary knowledge fields. He calls this a post-digital perspective due to the interactivity and participation through digital media already declining and becoming commercialized, he explains, something he began noticing from the first edition in 2005 of a festival focusing on new media, and which became a critique to people to work on analog media as a way to move forward into a multidisciplinary future.

He explains that AR is basically research in and through artistic practices. “That in itself doesn’t give too many answers. I think the main thing is that it has given artists an opportunity to take more ownership over the knowledge that is produced through art.” A practice which traditionally has been applied to other fields of study and interpretation, but which previously was not a focus in the art world.

“What AR does is it serves as intervention into knowledge itself. It shows how it is performative, aesthetic, so much more than just hard data. It brings in the more experiential dimmensional knowledge that are extremely important today, because we live in a world that is producing so much more polarization in different groups and society, that artistic knowledge production (doesn’t necessarily solve problems but) it brings perhaps another way of dealing than what we see today – a failing, a rational, scientific world view capable of bringing change – because the artistic view often wins over the scientific view, in the sense that people believe what they want to believe in – they invest their energy in the aesthetics and poetics they most identify with, anyway… so artists then, can actually do a lot of change in terms of being allowed into that flow of knowledge production.”

Special thanks to Kristoffer for the guidance and feedback through the development of this project.

Humans and Soil: Marit-Shirin (Sweden)

Humans & Soil is an artistic platform committed to decolonizing academic practices and revitalizing our ancient indigenous relationship with the Earth. The project’s vision grew out of northern Sámi and Japanese Ainu perspectives. Conceived by choreographer and researcher Marit Shirin Carolasdotter in 2017, Humans and Earth and has since grown into a platform that dynamically balances performance, research and activism across international partnerships.

A really strong urge to do projects that are meaninful and nourishing are what inspires and activates Marit-Shirin to connect her roles as performer, facilitator and researcher, to provide space to the voices and narratives of her community, or those communities she collaborates with, as well as the narration of her own journey. Continue reading here…

Time Capsules of Knowledge – Frida Bowallius (Sweden)

Located in the heart of Stockholm, Hallwylska museet / the Hallwyl museum is a time capsule containing almost 60,000 objects, catalogued in all sorts of collections, from fine art and objects, to design and fashion, daily life objects, and various items such as postcards, poems, bookbinding tools and more.

Wilhelmina von Hallwyl (1844-1930) was one of Sweden’s great collectors of art and applied arts at the turn of the century. She supervised the cataloguing process throughout her life, and designed the exhibition of each room. The von Hallwyl couple donated the house and the collection at No. 4 Hamngatan to the nation in 1920, but they remained in residence there until their death. The museum opened to the public in 1938, and today, it has been named Stockholm’s favorite museum.

In this interview, Frida Bowallius, one of the curators of the museum, speaks about the current collaborations with researchers and artists, who benefit from this large archive, to link narratives to our present and predict tendencies of the future. Continue reading.

The Place for Loud, Open, Fluid Knowledge – Rikke Lund Heinsen (DK)

“It’s a place to underline things… It’s a place to stick to stuff. And not just say ‘yeah, yeah, we know there’s something about, for instance, sustainability, but we’re in a hurry and we need to do this play very quickly because, whatever, premier on Sunday’… research allows you to dig deeper, and also to ‘stay with the trouble’ or at least stay with the need or the urge to tell whatever it is you need to tell”.

Rikke Lund Heinsen is a producer, essayist, artistic researcher and associate professor at Den Danske Scenekunstskole, where for the past few years she’s been sharing with me and my peers of this MFA in Performing Arts, her knowledge on artistic entrepreneurship and on artistic research. She is also, by my very specific request, the supervisor and mentor of this project. This is because there’s few things more contagious and exciting than listening to her speak about these subjects, and her approach to the field has allowed me to feel comfortable entering the blank, unknown spaces of my own investigation.

Continue reading…

The Abstract Concept of Endings – Ahmed Zaidan (Finland)

Ahmed Zaidan is a poet, journalist and artistic researcher, originally from Iraq and currently residing in Turku, Finland, where he works combining artistic research and poetic journalism to discuss the subjects of displacement, adaptation, and self-reliance.

The Abstract Concept of Endings is an artistic research project supported by the Kone Foundation which Zaidan is now embarking on, along with the migration institute of Finland. The project requires him to transfer scientific materials into poetic prose, with a focus on endings, from the endings of refugee journeys, their previous lives in other countries, the ending of your status as an asylum seeker, the moment you receive a new citizenship, and so… every moment, and every ending, brings a new life… to me, it is also a new beginning”. Continue reading.

Perceptions of Time: Daniel Malpica (Finland)

Daniel Malpica is a Finnish-Mexican writer, graphic designer, publisher and multimedia artist. His work involves the exploration of cross-narratives, transmediality, design and literary arts. As an artist and curator, Malpica has developed multiple transdisciplinary literary projects across Europe, the Nordics, and Mexico. Malpica was editor and designer of Radiador Magazine and, between 2019-2022, a member of the board of directors of the Finnish PEN.

His most recent books, ‘Se escribe con X’ and ‘Manuke Libre’, have received support from the Finnish Arts Council (TAIKE) and the Kone Foundation.

For this interview series, “The Ecology of Artistic Research”, we meet at Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located a 15-minute ferry ride away from the centre of Helsinki, Finland, where Malpica is currently one of the artists in residence of HIAP (Helsinki International Artists Programme).

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Lighthouses in a Practice: Tehdas Teatteri (Finland)

Tehdas Teatteri is the most important independent theatre in Turku, an exciting hub for new work and one of the main stages for new Finnish puppetry. The wild and daring Tehdas was founded over 20 years ago and is based in Manilla, on the eastern bank of the river Aura near the Föri. It is here that Venla Luoma, director of the theater, welcomes me to speak of Artistic Research, outside of the academia and directly connected to the circular processes of investigation and production that make of Tehdas Theater such a unique place. Read more here…

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