Special issue, guest editor: Mary Sherman
One of the most common terms bandied about in academic circles of late is ‘Artistic Research.’ It has become a regular feature in seminars, departments are being built around it, and exhibition texts are smattered with it.
Yet, as the Journal for Artistic Research – a peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Artistic Research – reminds us, the term remains elusive. What JAR offers is not so much a definition of artistic research as examples of it. Recognising that text is only one of a number of possibilities to present research to a wider audience and taking advantage of online multimedia formats, the journal offers artists a space to unfold their research where they can use words and/or alternative modes of expressions, such as video, sound, and slide shows. The journal then provides a forum for peer-to-peer discussion.
These presentations of art as research become a further means of communicating the claims of artistic work. The entries translate art into another ‘language’ or form of expression, exposing practice as research. Viewers/listeners/readers are provided with insight and new avenues for accessing art – a role more traditionally associated with art criticism. In the light of this, one could argue that JAR, and the emerging field of artistic research as a whole, provides a space for the renegotiation of criteria for evaluating art. In an art world famously overrun with gatekeepers of various kinds, the question remains whether exposing critical practises might expand the question of criticality beyond evaluative points of view.
Aside from weighing in on this growing trend of artists as the producers and interpreters of their works, what can critics offer artists and the public today beyond passing judgement (thumbs up/down) on the quality of art works, exhibitions, and performances and, more specifically, on this rapidly expanding field of artistic research? Can criticism be seen as a form of artistic research in its own right, responsive to this new artistic field and also a player within it? And, if so, what are the potentials for criticism in exposing its research and research methods? What might be learned from critics working with new definitions of quality and in new media formats? That is, what kinds of provocative modes of exploration into both artistic research and the practice of criticism can we expect from the critics themselves?
Mary Sherman is an artist and curator and the director of TransCultural Exchange, which she founded in Chicago in 1989. She also teaches at Boston College and Northeastern University and, recently, served as the interim Associate Director of MIT’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology. Additionally, for two decades, she worked as an art critic for such publications as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Boston Globe, and ARTnews. She has received numerous grants and awards, including two Fulbright Senior Specialist Grants (Taipei and Istanbul), and been an artist-in-residence at such institutions as the MIT and the Taipei Artist Village. Among the shows she’s curated, two received awards from the Northeast Chapter of the International Art Critics Association. Her own works, which push the definition of painting into the realm of space and sound, have been shown at numerous institutions, including Taipei’s Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing’s Central Conservatory, the Boston’s Sculptors Gallery, and New York’s Trans Hudson Gallery.
Deadline for submissions: 30 June 2014.
JAR is currently seeking submissions and reviewers on this topic for its first guest-edited edition of the online publication. And, like submissions from other disciplines, critics are invited to submit their thoughts in text and/or other media formats. Submissions need to be made in the Research Catalogue. They will be peer-reviewed, and comments shared with the authors before final selection.
Send your correspondence to: Barnaby Drabble, Managing Editor, Journal for Artistic Research (JAR), email@example.com