The third Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts, CARPA 3, took place at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki between 28th February and 2nd March 2013. The purpose of the biannual CARPA colloquia is to contribute to the development of artistic research practices in the field of the performing arts and to foster their social, pedagogical and ecological connections. For the third time The Performing Arts Research Centre (Tutke) invited researchers at doctoral and post-doctoral levels to share their work and participate in the colloquium, which this time focused on the impact of performance as research.
CARPA 3 took as its starting point the increasing demands on impact placed on all forms of research today. We sent out a call explaining our interest in the performance of artistic research and the various forms of effects, affects and side-effects produced by artistic research projects. We posed some very broad and general questions like: How do expectations on efficacy relate to the so called performative turn in social sciences? What is the relationship between artistic research and performance studies? What forms of shared authorship and collaboration does performance as research support? What are the results of our research projects? And to our great delight many researchers and artists responded to the call, both those who had participated in the previous colloquia and wanted to continue discussions related to artistic research in performing arts as well as those who were attracted by the theme.
While deciding on the theme we did not fully realize how acutely relevant the topic of impact was for many scholars and artists, grappling with the privatization of universities. Our first keynote speaker, professor Heike Roms from Aberystwyth University made this clear in her lecture The Impact of “Impact” – Performing Artistic Research in the Ruins of the University? Roms explained how “Impact” has in the UK established itself as a new operative term that determines much of what happens in the name of research. In assessments of research quality and in applying for research grants, every researcher has to prove that their work has “impact” on the scholarly community as well as on non-scholarly publics. Roms discussed the impact this demand for “impact” has had on the field of artistic research, or “practice-as research” as it is called in the UK. She noted that a shift has been taking place in the debate on practice-based research in the UK, from a focus on its epistemological dimension associated with alternative forms of knowledge to the fact that artistic practice can help open research toward new, non-scholarly audiences. For instance the use of models and techniques from relational strategies in contemporary art have assisted in achieving “impactful” research. Although it is important to ask whom our research is for and how others may participate in it, Roms pointed out, the problem is that attention on “impact” is in agreement with the current policy of the conservative-liberal government in the UK and its move toward a greater privatisation of the University. She maintained that at a time when the teaching of art in British universities is no longer publicly funded, a call for the public impact of artistic research is used to further such privatisation. Referring to Bill Readings’ The University in Ruins (Reading 1996), Roms asked whether artistic research may inadvertently collude in such neoliberal politics, and, moreover, whether artistic research ever was as challenging to the University system as it thought itself to be.
For CARPA 3 we invited proposals of presentations (demonstrations, workshops, papers) related to three broad concerns. First of all we were interested in the relationship between performance studies and artistic research. Performance studies and the expanded field of performance acknowledge performance practices extending outside the realm of art into the everyday; artistic research and practice extend the academic traditions of performance studies, “doing” what performance studies have propagated but not always realized (Mckenzie, Roms and Lee 2010). Personally I find this relationship challenging and important, although in my experience it is in no way self-evident. While performance studies, and cultural studies in general, have insisted on trying to let all the various voices of knowledge producers be heard, and thus made room for artists’ voices as well, many artists and representatives of higher arts education insist on the special freedom and status of art as a field of critical practice.
The relationship between performance studies and artistic research was addressed by our keynote speaker Marin Blažević, who pointed out the relative mutual ignorance of performance studies and European postdramatic dramaturgical practices, while arguing for their close correspondence. In his lecture From Shifts to Shifting Dramaturgy he pointed out how the interplay of performative practice and theory or criticism of performance has been one of the distinctive factors in professing performance studies. According to him one of the main challenges has been to make the interaction and mutual reflection between (artistic) performance practice and theory of (artistic) performance more creative and complex. The shifts, introduced at the PSi#15 conference in Zagreb (2009), and later adopted by the PSi annual conferences, were thus conceived as collaborative crossover formats inviting both artists and scholars to experiment with the protocols of various intersected forms of performance and its research, whether in the framework of artistic practice, academic discourse and teaching, or social activism.
Secondly CARPA 3 focused on performance-as-research, using the international term, although the term practice-as-research in performing arts could have been used equally well. We wanted to focus on a whole set of themes like the performer as researcher, performer as author, authorship and performance, shared authorship, participatory strategies in performance related to the “transformative power of performance” and the performative turn in the arts (Fischer-Lichte 2008), and on participation as a key strategy in contemporary art (Bishop 2006). Humanistic research mostly consists of individual undertakings, while artistic practice in performing arts is often collaborative. Is it politically correct to work alone today? What does collaboration mean in artistic research? Collaborating and performing with what or whom? What are the limits and problems of collaboration? This cluster of themes turned out to be the most popular among presenters, perhaps not surprisingly, since the question of the performer as researcher or issues of collaboration concern most artist-researchers in the field in one way or another. These topics are also relevant for the professors, scholars and students at the Performing Arts Research Centre, many of who joined the colloquium.
Thirdly, CARPA 3 brought up the question of the performativity of artistic research, which relates to the main theme, the impact of artistic research. Performative research, however, can also be understood as a methodology. And then we can ask whether it should be understood as an extension of qualitative research or a distinct paradigm, as research producing what it names (Haseman 2006). Artistic research can be regarded as something performative, producing effects in the world, as successful or unsuccessful (happy or unhappy) rather than true or false (Bolt 2008). One of the core questions related to methodology is: how can we study the relevance of artistic research from inside the practice? And in a broader sense we can ask, what are the results and outputs of artistic research? What kind of impact do we expect to produce with our artistic research?
Brad Haseman, our third keynote speaker and a key figure internationally in propagating for a performative research paradigm, arrived from Australia to present his lecture Life Drama in Papua New Guinea: “It may be performative, but is it performative research?” Haseman elaborated on the performative research paradigm by outlining a major drama-based sexual health research project called Life Drama, funded by the Australian Research Council and the National AIDS Council of Papua New Guinea, and developed by a cross-cultural research team in Papua New Guinea. Recognising the limitations of established theatre-in-education and theatre-for-development approaches when working across cultures, the team adopted a practice-led research strategy in order to communicate more powerfully about the personal and social issues involved in sexual health. Haseman discussed in detail how Life Drama, as performative research, addressed the credibility tests, which all quality research must meet: the tests of methodology, documentation, ethics, significance and impact.
Besides these three illuminating key note speeches we had the opportunity to have the new rector of the University of the Arts Helsinki, Tiina Rosenberg, to open the colloquium with an insightful opening speech reminding us of Judith Butler’s notion of performativity. And we ended the colloquium with a panel titled “The Impact of Performance as Research”, where the three key note speakers met and could discuss their views on our three main topics – performance studies and artistic research, performance as research and performativity of artistic research – as well as emerging questions.
As in the previous CARPA we started the colloquium by a pre-conference workshop, this time held by Emilyn Claid, who in her session Face to Face drew on her practice-based research as a choreographer and Gestalt/existential psychotherapist and offered the participants opportunities to experience relational encounters through movement-based choreographic tasks. And as a further pre-conference event we had the Performance Philosophy launching event, an informal conceptual Bring-a-Dish Party. Performance Philosophy (http://performancephilosophy.ning.com) is a new international network concerned with the relationship between performance & philosophy.
We would like to acknowledge the economical support the colloquium received from Federation of Finnish Learned Societies (TSV). A great thank you is due to all the people involved in the organising of the colloquium, all the speakers, presenters and participants and especially the contributors who have generously shared their work to be published here. It is also worth mentioning, that Heike Roms, who donates all the money she is paid for speaking about her reaearch project into the history of performance art in Wales towards a comissions fund for new performance work, informed us, that the next commission goes to performance artist Tim Bromage, who will be working on a new performance, shown at the Experimentica 13 festival in Cardiff in November 2013.
Since many of the presentations at CARPA 3 consisted of workshops, performances or demonstrations it is obvious that trying to share them in this kind of publication is difficult. And since the findings of many of the research projects presented at the colloquium need to be published in peer reviewed journals, it has not been possible for everybody to share their ideas in these proceedings. Of the fourty one presentations at the colloquium we nevertheless have here material (either a paper or a workshop report or some other form of contribution) from sixteen presentations, which give an idea of the broad variety of approaches. The abstracts of workshops, demonstrations, papers and presentations not included in the proceedings can be found online in the book of abstracts. (www.teak.fi/Tutkimus/carpa/book_of_abstracts)
Although these proceedings are organised in a chronological order, following the order of presentations at the colloquium, they do not attempt to give an idea of what actually happened or to report on the discussions. Neither are the presentations compiled and edited to form a unity or whole. The texts are presented more or less in the form chosen by the contributors.
In her workshop report FACE-to-FACE Emilyn Claid describes the actual exercises concerning presence, phenomenological enquiry, dialogic empathy and falling that we engaged in and refers to her theoretical context in Erving Goffman’s thinking and the dialogic philosophy of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. In Making and Knowing Art from The Heart Antti Nykyri and Leena Rouhiainen discuss the dimension of affect in their work on a collaborative performance, which by intermixing personal, physical, artistic exploration and theoretical insights questions how the heart knows. They emphasize the significance of the affective and the emotional in artistic knowing. Per Roar describes briefly, in Viewing and Reviewing a Performance Situation, how he presented his paper in a participatory manner, kinaesthetically ”warming up” his audience.
Rebecca Collins shares with us the script of her lecture performance Dear Institution, which depicts her difficult and tender love-afffair with Academia, asking what it means to work as an artist in an academic framework. Eeva Anttila, Hanna Guttorm, Teija Löytönen and Anita Valkeemäki report from their session Happy Incidents and Unexpected Encounters in the Academia, or Be(coming) (a) Present(ation) sharing their collaborative project in search for intuition, spontaneity and playfulness that too often become lost in the academia. Katja Hilevaara and Emily Orley present a powerpoint as documentation of their performance MAKING MAKING MATTER: A Dialogue about Brief Encounters and Enduring Impressions, where they tried to dissolve soap while discussing in otder to relate to the history of the Theatre Academy building as a former soap factory. Kai Lehikoinen discusses and describes, in his paper Artistic Interventions as a Strand of Artistic Research, artistic interventions as artist-led initiatives that help organisations through the arts to develop their activities or competencies, and asks under which conditions could artistic interventions be regarded as artistic research.
Åsa Unander-Scharin and Carl Unander-Scharin report, in Sensory Digital Intonation. The Impact of Artistic Intuition and Experience when Fine-tuning Digital Artefacts, on their demonstration of their work with collaborative processes in the realm of technology-related choreography and opera.
In Into the Good Night (Go) Joanne ‘Bob’ Whalley & Lee Miller, who presented a 24 hour durational performance during the colloquium, write about their recent concerns about the training involved in bearing witness to live performance practice, the role of the body as an archival source and their interest in non-western body-based practices. Cecilia Lagerström describes her work with the performance act ”Silent Walk” and the questions this process has evoked in Etudes on Silence – Researching the Performative and Performing Research.
Vincent Meelberg discusses the implications of engageing in musical improvisation in his text Musical Improvisation as the Performance of Embodied Knowledge: Embodied Narrativity in Musical Performance. June Boyce-Tillman gives an overview of a grounded theory based research project and a series of interviews with a variety of institutions in the UK concerning performance as research (PaR) methodologies, in her text Embodied Knowing – Performativity as Research in the UK. Tero Nauha, who showed his performance ”
Life in Bytom” at the colloquium, describes the theoretical grounding for his artistic work in Poland, in Life in Bytom: The Actual Forms of Plasticity and discusses concepts like ‘plasticity’ developed by Catherine Malabou and ‘sponge subjectivity’. Guy Cools presents in Rewriting Distance. Some Reflections on the Impact of Performance as Research his performative practice, developed together with the Canadian choreographer Lin Snelling, which is researching the somatic role of the dramaturg in a performative context.
Henry Daniel and Rakel Ezpeleta describe Project Barca: New Architectures of Memory and Identity – A Case Study on the Impact of Performance as Research first through the conceptual starting points of going West to find Easy and going East to find West, and secondly through the different levels of impact of the performance in Barcelona. In Electrovocal Performance as/in Research: Notes for a Performance Gretchen Jude presents the script for her performance lecture and demonstration, which explored the problem of (dis)embodiment in human (vocal) interactions with digital technology in the form of a real-time experiment.
Finally, Paula Salosaari, who gave a demonstration with Leena Rouhianen and Joanna Rinne, writes with the title Initiating an Improvised Dance/Music Performance through Movement Imagery and Performance Analysis, about her project, a continuation to her research on ballet (2001), supporting the dancer’s interpretational choices and co-authoring in dance making projects.
As these titles show, not only impact but also artistic research, performativity or performance is understood and approached in a multidisciplinary manner. Hopefully these papers and reports will inspire the reader to create new research projects and of course to join us for CARPA 4, which in all likelihood will take place in Helsinki in 2015.
Annette Arlander is an artist, researcher and a pedagogue, one of the pioneers of Finnish performance art and a trailblazer of artistic research. She is educated as theatre director, Master of Arts (philosophy) and Doctor of Art (theatre and drama). Arlander was the first to be awarded a doctorate from the Theatre Academy, Helsinki (in 1999). In 2001 she was invited as professor of performance art and theory, a position she held at the time of the CARPA Colloquium. Arlander’s research interests are related to artistic research, performance-as-research, performance studies, site-specificity and the environment. Her artwork is focused on performing landscape by means of video or recorded voice, and moves between the traditions of performance art, video art and environmental art. For more information see www.harakka.fi/arlander and annettearlander.com
Bishop, Claire 2006. The Social Turn: Collaboration and its discontents. Artforum International. mafineartcontemporarypractice.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/claire-bishop.pdf
Bolt, Barbara 2008. A Performative Paradigm for the Creative Arts? Working Papers in Art and Design Volume 5. www.herts.ac.uk/research/ssahri/research-areas/art-design/research-into-practice-group/production/working-papers-in-art-and-design-journal
Fischer-Lichte Erika 2008. Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics. London and New York: Routledge.
Haseman, Brad 2006. A Manifesto for Performative Research. Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, theme issue “Practice-led Research” (no. 118): pp. 98–106. eprints.qut.edu.au/3999/
Mckenzie, Jon, Heike Roms and C.J.W-L. Lee (eds.) 2010. Contesting Performance – Global Sites of Research. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Reading, Bill 1996. The University in Ruins. Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press.