Artistic Research

The articulation of art research as a demarcated activity emerged in relation to the question of whether artists produce knowledge and how this knowledge might relate to academic knowledge. Artistic research is something far broader and more integral to art practice than this, however. It is concerned with reinstating art works in the flow of their thinking processes and making space for their natural connectedness to other disciplines and to the concrete world. It encompasses many aspects of my interests and informs my current writing as well as my curatorial interests. 


Sara Campos performance Art Rotterdam 2013

Sara Campos, From Head To Toe (searching colour gold), 2013,

as performed at Art Rotterdam, 2013



Reclaiming Artistic Research 

This book is forthcoming in 2018 in an English and Spanish edition published by MaHKUscript, The Netherlands and 17, Institute for Critical Studies, Mexico City, among other partners.

Reclaiming Artistic Research aims to re-create space for artists to lead and shape conceptions of artistic research and its place in art. It reclaims artistic research in response a paradox; namely the increasing centrality of artistic research within art practice on the one hand, and artists' widespread lack of identification with artistic research discourse on the other. This gap is seen to be a discursive one, due in large part to the relative isolation of academic-led discussions on artistic research, largely developed to support the institutional establishment of the PhD in Fine Art in the University system, rather than in the language of artists and the art world.

Reclaiming Artistic Research focuses on a deeper shift that has taken place within contemporary art over the past 10-15 years, which has lead to a conception of art as predominantly a way of thinking, a bringing of artistic knowledges to bear on particular situations or subject areas. The book manifests this shift in the practice of well-established and recently acclaimed artists. Conversations with artists and curators make space for personal genealogies of artistic research and artistic forerunners to emerge that echo the individuality of artistic practice. The book highlights the creative possibilities that are opening up for artists today through the changing place of theory in art education and through a more dynamic relationship with academic material sources manifest in emerging artists' practices.

Reclaiming Artistic Research reminds its readers that the desire to think something differently often calls for new forms of representation. It invites its public to learn new languages, languages produced through art that cannot necessarily be "translated" in academic terms.

Contributors include Dora García, Mario García Torres, Samson Young, Falke Pisano, Euridice Kala, Arin Rungjang, Liam Gillick, Natasha Ginwala, Rabih Mroué, Rana Hamadeh, Em'kal Eyongakpa, Ryan Gander, Sarat Maharaj, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Sher Doruff, Sarah Rifky and Yael Davids. Designed by Tomas Celizna.

 Art Knowledge: Between the Known and the Unknown

Logo downloads EN web grijsCurrent research on this book has been generously suported by the Mondriaan Fund (2016-2017) 

Art Knowledge: Between the Known and the Unknown takes a closer look at the complex relationship between art and knowledge, in the widest sense of that term. It seeks to do justice to the ways in which theory and practice come together in the artistic creative process, focusing on aspects of the making process that are difficult to communicate to those who have never made an artwork. It makes space for art's engagement with the unknown, with that which cannot (yet) be named.

Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a specific aspect of artistic engagement and its related theoretical questions, taking the work of two or three contemporary artists as a departure point. Insights are gleaned from the artistic processes of contemporary artists such as Rabih Mroué, Imogen Stidworthy, Katarina Zdjelar, James Coleman and Ryan Gander. The book draws on the author’s experience as a trained artist, educator of artists, curator and employee in art museums, universities and academies, working in the faultlines between art and knowledge production.

Art Knowledge: Between the Known and the Unknown critically reflects on the philosophical questions that arise in the production of art as well as knowledge. It seeks to elaborates on why the unknown is so central in artist’s approach to the world and why artists typically seek questions rather than answers. It offers the reader insight into artists’ engagement with irresolvable trains of thought, with a view to holding open space for new knowledge between conflicting modes of thinking.

In Art Knowledge: Between the Known and the Unknown, the contemporary artist is presented as constantly coming into contact with, re-processing and reimagining existing forms of knowledge. This book highlights the fragile yet potent agency of art’s ability to suspend knowledge production in a state of flux. 

 Reclaiming Artistic Research - First Thoughts, 2017

The edition of MaHKUscript Journal for Fine Art Research, guest edited by Lucy Cotter, offers a sneak preview of the book publication, Reclaiming Artistic Research. Contributors:

Yael Davids, Arin Rungjang, Dora Garcia, Euridice Kala, Grada Kilomba, Ryan Gander, Falke Pisano, Liam Gillick, Sher Doruff, Samson Young, Yuri Pattison, Tania Pérez Córdoba.

See for details:

Other Publications

My writings on artistic research vary in style, from the academic to the experimental, oscillating between the artistic and the academic, in search of a range of voices to address artistic research with integrity for different publics. See for example:

"Experimenting Spirituality" in Experiment!, Sher Doruff and Manuela Rossini, eds. Rodopi and Bril, Boston, Leiden and Singapore, forthcoming 2018

“Between the White Cube and the White Box: Brian O’ Doherty’s Aspen 5+6” in Artistic Research Expositions: Publishing Art in Academia, Michael Schwab and Henk Borgdorff (eds), University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 2013

"180 Degrees: The University after Artistic Research” in Art Education: A Glossary, ed. Tom VandePutte, Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam, 2013

Master Artistic Research

Royal Academy of Art, The Hague


Lucy Cotter_Miguel Peres dos Santos_Master Artistic Research

From 2010-2015 I was invited to develop and lead the newly-founded Master Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Art and Royal Conservatoire, The Hague. My aim was to create an open and dynamic programme where artistic research would make space for a certain approach to art practice, rather than "research" being an activity that took place next to the making of work. This involved the creation of new teaching structures and experimental forms of collaboration as visual artists and (in smaller numbers) as composers and musicians. 

An annual yearbook, the Marchive was published to document the program's outcomes. Editions 1, 2, 3 with sample programme documentation are available on request. 

The teaching curriculum was supported by an extensive exhibition and event program. See also curatorial for more details of exhibitions and events organized during 2010-2015.