Abstracts Interdisciplinary Research. Tàpies Foundation 24/11/2016



Barcelona University.

Simon Sheikh (Goldsmiths, University of London): Situating Curatorial Knowledge and Power.

Abstract: This talk will look into the notion and practice of the curatorial, understood both as a way of thinking about the world, and a way of presenting a world. That is, both as a philosophical concept (as suggested by Martinon and others), as well as a specific practice of setting ideas into form, even if this is not in the format of the exhibition. This form consists, nonetheless of an assemblage of subjects and objects, that is both a producer of knowledge, and a constriction of what can be considered knowledge, and thus intrinsically related to the concept of power. This is not only about who has the power to speak and to know, but also about the power to give voices to subjects and objects, to empower, as well as to question power – the power of exhibitions, institutions and art – and curatorial knowledge production as a mode of governance.

Luís Guerra (Autonomous University of Barcelona): Oscillation, a without fixed abode praxis of errancy, inexistence and non-domicile.


Abstract: Oscillation is a category of nomading. As such, it is shaped on the efficient availability of two extreme points from a pure trajectorial. The figure of what oscillates, that which wanders, nomads in an intervalitude without disturbances, convokes, or it would convoke, an abstract periodicity. Such periodicity is in itself oscillatory too, which makes oscillation an infinite’s force-form. Oscillation’s deflation, sinking towards the-centric, involves a gravitational hollowing of its composition: stop oscillating implies a trajectory diagonalization which is exempt of the previously measured trajectorial. The parallelness that compossibilitates ‘permanent’ oscillation is subsumed in at the very point which cancels it.

It oscillates what contains the opportunity of a single center point in which the instantiation of its becoming obstinately persists. Oscillation is a particular mode of occurrence, then a particular mode of existence, therefore, of inexistence.[1] Its degree of existence, détermination-en-dernière-instance, is formed by the formalization of its wandering. Errancy inscribed then, Odradek’s incompleteness, the-oscillating is a force-form in aberrancy, what oscillates is at the edge of its own self, babbles as balances its disposition, thus aberrantly oscillates the very trajectorial corporeity of its oscillation.

The oscillation’s aberrancy forces-forms its own nomadness, legislative circumscription to the punctual gravity in practice, form of the suspensionness (vide spectreation of the suspensional).[2] The oscillating aberrates then the punctuality as immanent excessiveness, en-dernière-instance.[3] Oscillation, the oscillating, is a modality (term to be examined) of inexistence.

Laura Benítez (EINA, Autonomous University of BArcelona): Compactification. Wrapping Artistic Research.

Abstract: The aim of this proposal is to suggest that some aspects of String Theory can be useful to think on Ontological, Epistemological and Methodological questions related to Artistic Research. Taking into account the three possible definitions for Artistic Research proposed by Simon Sheikh, my contribution to the discussion would defence the importance of the concept of Compactification to think on artistic research, focused on methodologies. Presenting Compactification as a transverse axis, a sort of continuous intervention_interaction between research into artistic practises and materials, research as artistic practise and research that is artistic.

Since the term quantum is often used loosely, it is frequently misunderstood. It is often wrongly associated with naive translations from Science(s) to Art(s), but, in fact, would seem to be helpful, from a metaphorical approach, to take some fundamental questions on Quantum Physics to work on possible methodologies and conceptions of artistic research. Besides, we reasonable can have some doubts about, we could find some common problems between quantum methodologies and artistic research. Quantum Mechanics leads to new forces from the wavelike nature or from its variances, but how can they be strong enough? Why can not we stack together all electron wave functions with the same energy? How to unify the fundamental forces under quantum rules? Here the concept of compactification becomes key to work on dimensions. To face up the dimensional problem, compactification proposition is that the extra-dimensions are «wrapped» up on themselves. The hypothesis of this proposal is to transpose this condition of being wrapped to artistic research in order to think on different possibilities for methodologies, from a compactification linked to immanence. Projects, or methodologies, like multiple waves, but the plane of immanence as the single wave that rolls them up and unrolls them. Multivariance as immanence property of artistic research methodologies.

Pau Alsina (Open University of Catalunya): Ethico-onto-epistemologies of art.

Abstract: Every cross-disciplinary collaborative process seems to generate an unavoidable act of reflection and analysis connected to one’s own production, and one’s position within the framework that sustains the project under development. We could perhaps say that collaboration allows us to get to know ourselves better, or that cross-disciplines allow us to better understand the disciplines themselves.It could be that, although some would say there is no pre-established “being” or “knowing” within disciplines and cross-disciplines, it is instead a becoming and a knowing that draws out an ethico-onto-epistemology in constant process and evolution, as if it were a structure, building itself with no beginning or end. A map does not build a territory, in cross-disciplines or in the discipline itself, because the paths to be walked are many and varied, according to starting point, time chosen, or the speed and direction taken, for example. In some way interdisciplinarity research reveals operational metaphors and methodological errors and exposes hidden assumptions of disciplinary cultures by denaturalization and interrogating operational metaphors and structuring narratives. If we look at it from a broad historical perspective, at the end of the day, what defines a discipline’s borders? What are the limits of a discipline? When does one begin and another end? Which feeds off which? Should we rely on anti-disciplinarity? Or, should we reduce cross-disciplinarity to a mother discipline from which the rest of the disciplines feed off? And how can we connect this to artistic interdisciplinar research? Interdisciplinarity in this case would mean to create a position beyond disciplines? In this communication we will reflect on this deep epistemological and ontological questions in relation to the Protocol for Interdisciplinary Research, an on-going open document written as a result of a series of workshops organised and hosted by Hangar in Barcelona under the auspices of the project Softcontrol (European Commission – Culture Programme 2007 – 2013)

Selina Blasco & Lila Insúa (Complutense University of Madrid): University without credits.

Abstract: We accept the challenge to reflect on the political meaning of educational institutions, aiming to transform these places of knowledge production into spaces for undisciplined thinking, based on the experience we acquired working in the Vice-deanship of Extensión Universitaria at the Fine Arts Faculty, Complutense University of Madrid (from 2010 to 2014). Our reflections were subsequently brought together in the book University without credits: A workbook on the arts and their doings, published by Ediciones Asimétricas and the Community of Madrid in 2016.

Through a great number of workshops, meetings and debates, both inside and outside the university, we set out a kind of learning that is chosen, and that is developed in search of alternative routes, doings and actions that do not elude conflict, and that are placed in relation with certain historical lines which we hope to redraw. This is why we are not leaving our own field of knowledge, i.e. the arts, and this is why we wanted to take part in the open call for the I International Research Seminar (Interdisciplinary Research) to make the most of an opportunity to share our work with researchers and specialists with similar interests when they get together in Barcelona on November 24, 2016.

Currently, our research is focussed on the possibilities that can be imagined and activated as extitutional practices, upon which we reflected in texts like Exterioridad crítica: comunidades artísticas en la universidad y el museo (“Critique from the outside: artistic communities in the university and museum”; Madrid, CA2M, in press), and from the I+d Research Project La incorporación de las comunidades artísticas universitarias a las narraciones de la modernidad y del presente (“The incorporation of university artistic communities into narratives of modernity and the present”). We also do so in the permanent work group, Programme Without Credits (https://programasincreditos.org/#), which is based at the Community of Madrid’s Sala de Arte Joven (“Young Art Centre”), at Avenida de América, a group which has been working together during 2016 and which will conclude with an exhibition Open House (November 2016 – December 2017), as well as some Public Meetings (25th and 26th November), organised around the following three themes:

  • –  Extracurricular: learning artistically, in ways which question the official programme, both in terms of content, dynamics and method, as well as how these are implemented.
  • –  Working Collectively: an analysis of the teaching and learning of artistic practices and/or communal creative processes.
  • –  Social Life: links and connections in dialogue with the outside.

We would like to attend the Seminar as a meeting point, to broaden the debate out to other experiences that have taken place in different faculties, both in Spain and elsewhere, or in distinct educational contexts, to exchange work methods for artistic action and research.

Christian Alonso (AGI, University of Barcelona): What does the object of research want?

Abstract: In the course of development of our academic investigations on art, it seems we are asked to lean towards two apparently different fields: on the one hand, an allegedly ‘neutral’ art historical perspective, and on the other hand, an engaged but risky «theoretical» standpoint. Roughly speaking, the success of the result of either path we choose to follow can be measured by the degree of which generalized research protocols are (technically) applied, or by the extent of which these protocols are reformulated, rephrased or re-written according to the nature of the research subject, taking the investigation ‘one step further’. Going beyond the «dead-end» discussion about the neutrality of the narration of ‘historical facts’, and departing from my academic research on art and ecophilosophy in the anthropocene, my presentation will address the crucial question of how the object of research is constantly demanding us to reconsider the way we talk about it, and what it means not only in terms of our research activity, but also in terms of our disciplinary practice.


María Alcaide (Independent researcher): Poetics of failure: precarious practices and colaborative labour.

Abstract: As a researcher and artist, I will focus my presentation on my visit to Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf (Algeria, October – November 2016) where I will be working with young people, born after the 1991 ceasefire -grown in a virtual territory, far away from their land- through experimental artistic devices where I combined installation and performative-collaborative practices.

I consider myself also a young Spanish member of ‘precariat’, the contemporary proletariat, I’ve worked in many different jobs and I’ve emigrated to another country. Consequently, the act of thinking about the future or the territory paralyzes me, as well as it does in some way with young Sahrawi people. My aim is to fight against this situation of doubt and volatility by getting involved into the everyday-life of people my age and create a ‘supporting group of precarious activists’. Over two weeks I organized my project in three performative modules to empower the community: Labor, Future and Art. I have taken pictures and recorded audio/video of the encounters and performances for a subsequent exhibition in Spain.

The most interesting part of the project is to connect young Sahrawis and young Europeans and uncover common points in their own personal stories, concerning the problematic economic context or the relationship between identity and territory. My aim is to find a way of critical dialogue between two different cultures where theory and contemporary art practices overlap, beyond boundaries of conventional and academic disciplines: we are all young, we are all precarious, we cannot stop thinking about the future, and we have the power to create. Undoubtedly, there is an evident culture contrast between Europeans and Sahrawi.

Post colonialist tensions may arise. In that case, they would take part of the project in order to give a greater visibility to the real situation.
The main objective is to draw a parallel between young people in different countries but similar context of global complexity and show it to the audience as an example of how the abstract could become concrete, accessible.

The outcomes of the travel concern the awareness and public denunciation of the Western- Sahara postcolonial regime, as well as the development of alternatives to the defenseless position of young people regarding the future.

More specifically, activities as the roles reversal could help us to step more fully into our power and aids others’ empowerment. Also the readings could stimulate the imagination, opening new horizons and leverage the development process of cultures through dialogue. This project is conceived as an ongoing research. The idea is to continue the collaboration by making the ‘supporting group of precarious activists’ bigger across cultures and territories. Nowadays, I think the best way to link people is the internet, so I may create a team to work on it by a mailing list or a social network.

Afterwards, the process and the final pieces will be shown in an exhibition in Spain, and maybe in another European countries where I’ve worked with galleries before.

Pau Cata (University of Edinburgh): Rethinking Epistemologies: Mobility, Hospitality and Cultural Exchange in the Maghreb.

Abstract: Since the 1990 Artist in Residency Programmes (AIRs) have expanded worldwide becoming nowadays a key aspect of the contemporary artists’ curricula. This expansion is encouraged and celebrated as the natural outcome of the success of artistic encounters that commonly develop through mobility, hospitality and cultural exchange. While acknowledging their enormous contributions, my research ‘Rethinking Epistemologies: Mobility, Hospitality and Cultural Exchange in the Maghreb’ unfolds a critique of AIRs global expansion in order to give voice to alternatives models that have been either ignored or placed at its periphery.

The potentialities of AIRs in fostering cultural diversity and intercultural understanding are key aspects of my PhD research. Instead of looking at the European context though, this investigation will focus on AIRs development in the Arab world, and more particularly in the Maghreb region. The aim of this endeavour is to think about AIRs both historically and through a contemporary perspective in relation to the social, political and cultural contexts of the region. Which are the historical and epistemological foundations of AIRs? How terms such as mobility, hospitality and cultural exchange are defined and practiced? And which are the traditions that shape these practices in the Maghreb? Are AIRs a western import or can we imagine new historiographies of AIRs that expand the very definition of what art is? These are some of the questions that this research will try to give answer to.

In short, the aims of my research can be summarized in the following aspirations: Firstly this project aims at empowering a deeper knowledge of the history and development of AIRs in the Maghreb based on literature analysis and grounded theory. Secondly it will enforce mobility, hospitality and cultural exchange that are ethically and politically responsive through collaborative and participatory applied research. And thirdly it will engage in the development of creative practices that foster a better understanding of the social and cultural realities of the Maghreb region by means of a series of video essays developed through visual anthropology, auto-ethnography and digital story-telling. The selection of the proposed methodology has been developed taking an analytical insight to the critique of western academia and the empowerment of indigenous epistemologies proposed by the contemporary approximations to decolonial studies. Being the focus of my research the Maghreb region I founded useful to investigate on Islamic methodologies as an indigenous epistemology that engages in context specific research practices. In that respect the Islamic Research Paradigm is the framework from where I built up my research strategy. In order to go from theory to practice this framework has been used as the base to unfold research praxis that are, at the same time, inspired by the innovative methods to study social and cultural phenomena proposed by western academia.


[1] Maurice Blanchot, De Kafka a Kafka, trad. Jorge Ferreiro (Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, (1993) 41-54.

[2] Félix Gaffiot, Dictionnaire Latin Français, (Paris: Hachette, 1934), 1095.

[3] Alain Badiou, Théorie du sujet (Paris: Édition du Seuil, 1982), 275-280.