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Practicing Research as Consciousness Raising: On Disruption, Mending, and Care, May 23, 2022

Keynote Lecture at the Symposium, Teaching Artistic Strategies: Playing with Materiality, Aesthetics, and Ambiguity. Transferring Research into Academic Teaching, FNHW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland

Research has become a still-new paradigm, which is considered central to contemporary artistic practice and to innovative and critical art making. What then makes a good research question for artistic practice? Who defines that? Who defines and who judges what is good about doing research? Research has been described as a dirty word by professor of indigenous education Linda Tuhiwai Te Rina Smith. This lecture looks at power dimensions of research connected to the sciences, the military, the industry, and university education. Acknowledging the historical implicatedness of research in systems of violence, harm, extraction, and domination, the lecture seeks to prolong possibilities that research can be emancipatory, transformative, and of relevance to futurity and caring imaginaries for ecological and social justice. Insisting that different research questions are very much needed, the lecture argues that artistic research practices can make space and time for consciousness raising. Such an open-ended approach would disrupt managerial ontologies of research, which are managed through deadlines and expected outputs. Envisioning research as consciousness raising draws on feminist activist traditions that were collective and connected lived experience to theory and to politics. Understanding systemic conditions through sharing individual experiences was at the center of this strategy. In relation to making research the subject of artistic investigation, this can mean the following: raising awareness for what it means to live in the aftermath of research as well as to collectively mend the effects of research in order to build emancipatory and caring forms of knowing.