Ethics – Issues

The articles were commisioned from Darla Crispin, Nanette Nielsen and Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk based on their participation as seminar lecturers at the Norwegian Artistic Research School


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Darla Crispin

The messiness of doing v. the integrity of action: towards an embodied ethics of artistic research

Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk

Perspectives on Ethics in Performance Practice

Nanette Nielsen

Researching Ethics through Musical (or Artistic) Experience

Doctoral programmes in artistic research have existed for some time; it is only more recently that some of these, for example in Norway, have begun to confer the title of PhD. This development opens up a contemporary critical space in which questions of the basic legitimacy of artistic research are being superseded by ones that interrogate its more specific attributes and credentials. As they become increasingly rich and sophisticated, these questions address artistic and intellectual but also ethical issues. This essay aims to provide a working sketch of the current situation and to propose possible models for future developmental work on ethics in artistic research. The ethical dimension is important because it challenges us to consider more closely the relationship between the artistic and the research elements in artistic research. In particular, it forces us to look critically at the value and purpose of the art-making component of this hybrid endeavour, a process which includes questioning the power structures that relate both to art itself and to the institutions in which it is practised as part of an academic environment.

Ethics and aesthetics are closely related in artistic practice. This text argues for the necessity of rendering the ethics behind notions of intuition, taste, or aesthetic choices more conscious and articulate when the artist moves into research practices within an academic framework. The ethics discussed here are existential and not rule bound. It implies ethics as a reciprocal process that is always situation specific. In the first section I use the Danish philosopher Knud E. Løgstrup’s ethical philosophy when discussing the performance Cinderella (2010) by Ann Liv Young. Løgstrup sees ethics as a given (through birth) relational practice of codependency. In the second part I draw on object-oriented philosophy when discussing an ‘ethics of the unknown’. This approach demands an acknowledgement of that which we cannot fully grasp and understands humans as all entangled in co-dependent relationships with everything around us. My argument is that as researchers we need to reveal more of these interdependent relationships as it challenges our concept of authorship, ownership, and audience relations, as much as it also sheds light on aesthetic ideologies and value systems. I use two performances, which deal with documents connected to the terror attack on 22 July 2011 in Norway, to discuss these ethical approaches to artistic practice: Christian Lollike and Olaf Højgaards performance Manifest 2083 and Breivik’s Erklärung by Milo Rau.

The current and future world-wide doom and gloom climate – politically, economically, and environmentally – is a call for action. That’s not to say we should abstain from thinking, however; we should pursue more thought-based action. Artistic researchers are in a prime position to foster and inspire thought-based action. This article argues that music seems to offer a particularly suitable, even paradigmatic humanistic response to current concerns. The first part sketches a perspective on how the powerful amalgamation of music – perceived in the broadest sense of any sounding music – and philosophy might inspire and inform much-needed thought-based action. It focuses in particular on music’s capacity to remind us how to be human, and philosophy’s capacity to clarify how and why this is the case. The second part of the article offers further examples of how music and musical engagement can be connected with ethical issues. The discussion specifically explores film music as an example of how to understand the position of the listening subject in order to get closer to understanding important intersections between ethics and aesthetics, in particular music and ethics. As a brief case study, the Austrian film director Michael Haneke’s 2001 film The Piano Teacher provides extra food for thought.