From September 2021 on I will take a new position and start an entirely new journey: As professor (Dutch: lector) of Artistic Connective Practices at Fontys University of the Arts in Tilburg, The Netherlands (FHK). The new lectorate aims to investigate how artists and their artistic (research) practices can contribute to the transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society.

This new position gives me the chance to further develop my ideas on the arts, and specifically artistic research, in social and societal contexts, and combine a number of interests of the past years in one place. This includes exploring how we as artistic researchers can contribute to society, being right in the midst of it – how we can give artistic research a place in the social sphere and its communities. Our strength is to ask questions from an artistic perspective, towards what an environment, a situation or context offers to explore, any maybe to change. We do so with a commitment to participate in the ‘larger conversation’ that goes beyond our own work or discipline: with citizens and the various communities, or other sectors such as healthcare or the creative industries.

The new lectorate will operate in different areas, which includes the actual development of (the concept of) artistic connective practices, next to building and further developing the research environment at the institution and connecting to the national and international artistic research field. The lectorate will work in various places and contexts: at FHK, the broader context of Fontys as a cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary institution, and the social field in the region, the city, its neighborhoods and communities.

So what are “Artistic Connective Practices”, actually? Without the artistic, the term “connective practices” is used by sociologist Martin Haigh in educational theory; Haigh describes connective practices as “affective educational strategies that invite learners to build an emotional and conative connection beyond their individual selves and their immediate social circle.” (Haigh 2017) He sees such practices in “the context of education for a sustainable future”, where it “links with the pedagogies of Deep Ecology, Social Sculpture and Invitational Education.” (Haigh 2017)

However, next to this bit of theoretical framing the term is not yet widely used and still quite open, especially when it comes to artistic practice and research. Prior to the new lectorate, designer Cynthia Hathaway has carried out a two-year research together with the FHK community, and “developed an FHK position towards inclusive and multidisciplary collaborations between the arts and society.” (Hathaway) This work lead to the publication DISCO, and inspiring magazine that is “part report, manifesto, institutional recommendation and a ‘do-it-together’ starting manual for a new lectorate.” Definitely worth a read, and even accompanied with a song list as musical background while reading!

The Bulding of Fontys University of the Arts in Tilburg.

The above are just a few first ideas and materials on which the initial work of the lectorate will build. I hope I will be able to inspire the community of students, teachers and researchers, to strengthen the connections that already exist between the disciplines and in the field of research, and to develop new connections in a sustainable way. Besides the focus on Artistic Connective Practices, this will also be a lectorate for everyone at FHK. After all, connectivity is not only the theme of the lectorate, it must also become its approach and fundamental attitude. This means to explore through collaboration, co-creation and collectivity; and along the lines of one of my favourite phenomena, emergence, and working in and through “emergent strategies” – a term by the wonderful Adrienne Maree Brown.

Where will this new inquiry take us? As common at the beginning of every new research project, I don’t know. I will use this site as a space of writing as inquiry, to share this journey and let readers follow it, engage with it as we go.

Together with the core team of the HKU professorship Performative Processes I am very happy to announce that the Perilous Experience CARPA5 Colloquium Proceedings are published, in the Helsinki Performing Arts Research Centre’s online publication series Nivel.

In late August 2017, Nirav Christophe, Henny Dörr, Joris Weijdom, Marieke Nooren and I gave a “polyvocal presentation” on the IYANTWAY project, in which we worked together with a group of youngsters who suffer from absence seizure. For more information on the project and a previous post on the colloquium see here.

For the direct link to the professorship’s contribution to the proceedings click here. The article works well as a complement and introduction to our recent book publication on IYANTWAY. Next to the information on the specific project the article includes our more imaginative and provocative Prague Provocations and Helsinki Hindsights. Enjoy the read!

2018 is just a month old, and there are already several news and new activities happening.

The most recent publication of the Professorship Performative Processes is out! In december we published If you are not there, where are you? Mapping the Experience of Absence Seizures through Art, edited by Henny Dörr and myself. The book presents the written outcome of the two-year transdisciplinary artistic research project IYANTWAY, in which a team of nine artists from various disciplines worked with eight youngsters on artistic utterances that match their experiences before, during or after a seizure. On Tuesday, 27th of February, we will officially present and launch the book, beautifully designed by Anton Feddema, at the HKU in Utrecht.

In only one and a half week, Christina Guillaumier and I, both creative directors of the Innovative Conservatoire (ICON), will give a joint presentation at the Reflective Conservatoire Conference 2018: “The musician in society – from craftsman to creative citizen”. For the ones who read the posts on this website regularly it will come with no surprise that I am very enthusiastic about presenting and participating at the Reflective Conservatoire: It is the third large-scale event about the musician in society for me, after the ICON seminar on the Musician in Society in October 2018 and the Protean Musician conference in Oslo last November, thus finishing a series that has provided me with enormous input on this topic.

On the 3rd of March, the new music theatre performance with trumpet player Sef Hermans, silencio, will be performed in its first version for the very first time, in Pamplona, Spain. I am very excited to show this first complete version of the piece, which is inspired by David Lynch’s “club silencio” in Mulholland Drive and the notion of the “ghost light” in theatre. This is also the first time in which the fabulous poem by Lynley Edmeades, Remainder, will be performed in one of my works. I know Lynley since we met at a performance studies conference in Prague, and this is the first actual result of this encounter, with which I am truly happy.

 

 

 

Epilogue

In the mean time, I have also re-joined the team of researchers of the HKU Professorship “Muzische Professionalisering” in the one-year long “Werkplaats Muzische Professionalisering”. I will publish a first post on my work here soon, but it is incredibly exciting to connect my various research projects with what lector Bart van Rosmalen calls “musal research”, in an inspiring team lead by Bart himself, Daan Andriessen and Peter Rombouts.

On August 31st, the core team of the Professorship Performative Processes presented a collaborative lecture at the 5th Colloqium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts (CARPA), at the University of the Arts Helsinki, entitled Perilous Experience – Extending Experience through Artistic Research.

True to its title, the conference included a large variety of papers, presentations and workshops that were exploring ”borders”: from the speculative via voice hearing to the paranormal. We were particularly impressed by two keynote speeches on the first two days: Etzel Cardeña presented From Monkey-mind to Embodied Performance Presence (see here for Cardeña’s abstract and bio and here for the registration of his keynote), and Lisa Blackman elaborated on Speculative Science, Threshold Experiences and Transubjectivities (see here for her abstract and bio and here for the registration of her presentation).

The beautiful entrance hall of the University of the Arts in Helsinki.
The beautiful entrance hall of the University of the Arts in Helsinki.

Readers who follow the work of the professorship, or this site, will know the project If You Are Not There Where Are You? (IYANTWAY) already: science and art were connected to make absence seizures (a light form of epilepsy) experienceable. As artists and researchers we worked with a group of children and youths from a performative and co-creative perspective, in which knowledge has not only been described, but generated through artistic utterance: artist and artwork are not only objects of research but its main actors. Artists worked alone and in pairs with the participants, in a creation process that transformed from collaboration into sheer co-creation.

From right to left: Marieke Nooren, Falk Hübner & the Unicorn.
From right to left: Marieke Nooren, Falk Hübner & the Unicorn.

Children who suffer from absence seizures have little ways of sharing their experiences. Language does not suffice to explain the often fearful multi-sensory hallucinations, and the moments of ‘not being there’. Neurologists can measure brain activity to help the diagnosis, but fail to grasp the actual experience of these children.

In the presentation we aimed to show how artistic research as methodology has helped us to re-create experience, to realize impact on reality, and to strengthen our conceptions of co-creative work forms. We addressed several questions this project has raised on ownership, co-creation and ethics, illustrating the perilousness of engaging with absence seizures.

Marieke Nooren introduces the IYANTWAY project.
Marieke Nooren introduces the IYANTWAY project.

We chose for a kaleidoscopic and polyphonic approach to the form of the presentation, which aimed to address not only the various aspects of the project itself, but also the different personalities, and ways of working within the team of artist-researchers.

After Marieke Nooren’s brief introduction and a film trailer, Nirav Christophe talked about co-creation and creation strategies from the perspective of the artists, after which Falk Hübner shed light on the aspects of ownership and creation on the side of the participants.

Henny Dörr elaborates on the work process from rehearsal space towards the final installation.

Henny Dörr and Joris Weijdom followed with a staged “Q&A”-like dialogue on their approaches to the creative work in their respective collaborations, in order to ”re-create the experience” of the participants. In particular they elaborated on the relation between the abstract and the concrete, which worked differently in both cases – Henny went through a process in which the material became more and more abstract, and Joris exactly the other way round, towards more concrete material.

Joris slide WP
Visualisation of the two “moves”: Henny went from concrete to abstract, whereas Joris started with abstract shapes and moved towards the concrete and physical.

In the third part, Marieke presented a number of quotes from participants and stakeholders of IYANTWAY to illustrate the impact of the project. The quotes were projected on the screen and the team was provoked to react on these quotes quickly and intuitively, recalling the mode of a quiz show.

We closed with the first step of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (CRP), a form that specifically aims to facilitate qualitative feedback.

The audience space in the CARPA theatre.
The audience space in the CARPA theatre.

The presentation was paralleled (or counterpointed) with the Helsinki Hindsights, a page containing statements or provocations that resulted from our work in IYANTWAY. These statements were provided to the audience by simply laying them on the chairs.