Between Art and Academia: A Study of the Practice of Third Cycle Artistic Research

Since the 1990s, artists increasingly engage in doing ‘artistic research’: research conducted in and through artistic practices. In 1999, the Bologna Process introduced a three cycle system to higher education which enabled artists to engage in doctoral research. However, in the Netherlands and Belgium artistic researchers have to collaborate with both art educational institutions and universities. As a result, third cycle artistic researchers are expected to meet the criteria of both communities. In the debate about artistic research, authors try to define artistic research in relation to both art and academia, but do not focus on the vast variety of artistic research projects that are already being pursued in the field. This thesis develops an understanding of the work third cycle artistic researchers do and how their practices are influenced by their in-between position. Therefore, the central question in this research is: How do third cycle artistic researchers in their everyday practices produce outcomes that can be evaluated according to both academic and artistic criteria?

De praktijk van artistiek onderzoek | Genomineerd voor de Max van der Kamp Scriptieprijs 2017 from LKCA on Vimeo.

Through qualitative empirical research on ten doctoral artistic research practices from a constructivist-pragmatist perspective, a focus is provided on what is done in the practices, rather than what is written about them. This leads to the insight that artistic researchers in their doctoral research practice are not set out to produce either academic or artistic outcomes beforehand. Rather, their artistic practice functions as method through which they construct productive research environments. Their position enables them to both challenge their artistic practice and develop their research practice at the same time and through the same process. Ultimately, opening up the idea of method and zooming in on how artistic ways of working can be embedded in research practices can be a source of inspiration for social scientists who aim to enlarge their methodological repertoire.
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