By Dr Alexander Damianisch
Art and research, typically, have their own focal points and contextual understanding of relevance for their fields. But there is at least one strong overlapping area, and artistic research is at the core of this today. Artistic Research is multi-coloured, curiosity driven, open to apply and adapt methods and reach out for topics challenging the given. The aim to seek better understanding and create new insight has developed new ways of researching via artistic praxis and providing artistic outputs. Today the outcome of the successful coupling of art and research in Europe may be identified in a variety of forms. Considering geography, focus and time help us to obtain a clearer picture.
Artistic research allows practitioners to be successfully active as artists (community: market and peers), to follow a so-called academic narrative, aiming to develop careers of practitioners (academic and institutional: research and teaching), or there is also the idea of resourceful empowering via supporting (resources: internal or external funding of projects) praxis in new ways. It is important to say, that one approach does not exclude the other, more layers may be active at once. This may be the ideal situation. Nevertheless the context for Artistic Research in Europe can be seen as four zones, each with its focused take on, and reality of, Artistic Research: South (incl. France, Italy, Spain); North (incl. Finland, Norway, Sweden, UK); Centre (incl. Austria, Germany, Netherland, Switzerland); and East. Of course within these groups are cases that have special qualities, but in general these groups are configured according to lines of focused activities (approaches).
In relation to the ideas provided – community: market and peers, academic and institutional: research and teaching, and resources – the picture of the south is more one that is focused in the area of individual approach, so artistic research happens (and needs to happen) on an individual level; on the institutional and academic side recently developments show remarkable potential (e.g. RAMI). In Europe’s centre group, Germany seems distinctive. Here, art and research are not connected in the same way that it has in some of the other countries in central Europe, especially Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands which have, in that sense, more in common with the UK and the north. In all these countries practitioners shape institutions and formats of academic development (shaping of e.g. third cycle Programmes) and this includes funding schemes. So it seems here is an interesting example for inclusion of the three layers of interest, and it is interesting that Germany has not yet taken up the opportunity to provide resources for art and research project work like other countries . The east is catching up and is establishing closer connections, which are welcome within the community of artistic researchers.
All this exchange is happening via communication. This communication happens on individual basis but also via networks. Institutionally the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA), plays a very important role. At a methodological or disciplinary oriented level the most important connector is the Society for Artistic Research which provides an internationally open and also digital setting for connection and collaboration.
History helps us understand why artistic research in Europe has developed in this way. Remarkable moments – in the time of the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance, the age of enlightenment and modernity – have provided opportunities for individuals to step up and challenge the status quo. And it is important to consider political implications in this history and challenging of power and punishment, that also reflected the postcolonial context. All of this leads to creative responses to the idea of the individual and its collective aspirations, the aim of greater understanding of the world and the creation of new ways of seeing. Before the idea of research was separated into the areas of art and science, it was a praxis of practitioners that shaped Europe as it did in the rest of the world; in that sense Artistic research gives us a way to reconnect the most important and interesting aspects of our world by creating new ways of understanding and understanding.
Dr. Alexander Damianisch works for the support and development of understanding in research, teaching and executive work. He is director of the Zentrum Fokus Forschung at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and head of the department Support Art and Research. He is member of the executive board of the Society for Artistic Research and member of the executive board of AIL – the Angewandte Innovation Laboratory. He is delegate to the Austrian Science Fund and vice president of ARTist, a society supporting postgraduates. He studied literature and history at the Universities of Vienna and Paris (Sorbonne), concluding his studies with a doctoral degree. Additionally, he holds a Master of Advanced Studies in Arts Management (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna). He taught at the Lomonosov University (Moscow) and the University of Durham (UK). He worked in the field of arts management and non-profit PR, including curatorial work at the Memorial Site New Synagogue – Centrum Judaicum Berlin, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude Stuttgart in Germany. He was inaugural manager for the PEEK Programme for Artistic Research.
 So that artistic work is not bound anymore to the rigid streamlining of one-sided choices of the market.