Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] the practical

Dear All,

Sorry to have been silent, I have been working on a deadline, but have followed from the sidelines.

@Natasha, yes of course design as a method to approach this is crucial, but then we need to give design some guidelines :), because...

@ the rest, I love the issues discussed, but personally I am very interested in the down to earth practical solutions to the problems that are discussed. We need to design guidelines for this...perhaps the design of a metaphor could help?

When I spoke earlier about the infrastructures of artistic research collaborations I was thinking about these issues:

1) The financial infrastructure. As a researcher I have been lucky that my work has generated interest from the corporate responsibility world, meaning I have had the good fortune (after long preparations) to be in the position to have a 'moneybag' that allows me to 'shop' for the expertise I need to build my projects. The 'Moneybag' can aid in your
search for the right expertise at the right time and place. This brings
some 'lightness' into the collaborations, as each expert contributes
within a time frame that is not as demanding on their own schedules, they become more like collaborating advisers. This gives the artistic researcher the opportunity to freely search for the collaborations that are functional, in other words dedicated and able to happen in a shorter span.  We need to create financial structures that take into account this type of functioning. Make businesses aware of how they can make relatively small investments, with large benefits, without threatening business.

2) The Institutional infrastructure. This can not be done if one is restricted to a single institute, which is often slow to react. In my own case, we have the structure of a type of consortium, where the money is managed by an organization with the agreement on how it should be spent, but not specifically on what. Here the aims are written on paper in a way that does not diminish my artistic freedom. Collaboration happens not only on the level of expertise, but also strongly on the level of organization and finance. Trust is important. When interacting with the corporate world you have to deal with reports, risk assessments. This is a task that takes a lot from ones research time. Which brings me to the next institutional issues.

- Time. Institutions usually offer artist in residencies for periods of 3 months. This is too short for any collaboration, which is usually a slow process due to all parties involved. What I find useful, is to have an institute that provides the position of artistic researcher in residence that lasts a considerable longer time, but is more low profile. A kind of meta position that can be rounded up in longer periods in a way that does not threaten existing artist in residencies. Here the researcher would be required to give updates at certain intervals.In a sense three months is either too long or too short. One needs long periods to do the research and short periods to discuss interact with the public, so that the artistic results can inform the process, and discourse happens within the collaboration. A scientist one collaborates with can grasp what type of knowledge opportunities lie in short and powerful 'exhibition' presentations by actually
experiencing them in ways that do not threaten their usual time schedules and responsibilities. The art symposium in which the art experiment can be analyzed while it is still up.

- Presentations to the public. The ideal situation of 'artistic researcher in residence' would be very
different from artist in residence. Which might work on a proposal for two months and present it for the last month. The artistic researcher, in
collaboration or not, needs spaces to experiment, but the experiments
are not necessarily ready for public viewing (in the way the are used to).  When public presentations are given, they can be under the wing of the institute in such a way that the viewer/visitor is aware that they are experiments from a longer process. What one views/presents does not necessarily contain something that is finished. One discusses the knowledge that the experiment contains.

- Programming, which is another issue. Many institutes design there programmes around fixed exhibitions, often working/planning a year or two years ahead. Within the time slots a type of flexibility is needed where project spaces are available that can infiltrate in between the larger exhibition concepts. This is being done of course, but it seems more ad hoc, and not integrated in a fixed structure of welcomed knowledge injections. What is practically needed is a kind of attitude that allows artistic researchers to fly around and land where ever it is fruitful.

If we return to the metaphor. Perhaps the metaphor of  the bird that picks at the croc's teeth to mutual benefit. Yes, it might give some itch, but it is not threatening to the croc's functioning, it enhances it. Think about rigid institutional schedules. If I knock on the door of an institute as such a bird, I would be allowed in a week later, as the requirements are not the same. There is no 'threat' to the curatorial aims of the institute. One actully brings in a breath of fresh air, as long as one knows how to 'behave' in such a structure. The same goes for the investing of businesses. 

One example is the following. The Rijksakademie in The Netherlands is a prestigious institute, very hard to get in. They have amazing facilities that their residents don't always make use of full time. During my masters I was allowed to do a ceramic project within that institute. In a sense making use of their expertise, but functioning off radar. Much like an internship functions. Universities, Businesses, Prestigious institutes become accessible as long as most of the collaborations happen low key, off radar, until the right moment. If something valuable happens one may always be able to capitalize on it, but if all is failure (which is not a bad thing!) then one shrugs it off the same way one would shrug off the inadequacies of an intern. But at least the opportunity has a chance to grow, instead of knocking on closed or difficult doors.

Hope this illustrates practical issues that need to be solved to aid complex collaborations. If I need to elaborate let me know, as I am not sure my wordings make sense.



Jennifer Kanary Nikolov(a)| Artistic Researcher
PhD Candidate Plymouth University | Planetary Collegium | M-Node
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