In her keynote speech to the Swedish Research Council on the conceptual challenges facing further developments of Practice as Research in the Arts (PaR), Schroeder proposes an interesting way of looking at the controversial relationship between (artistic) practice and (academic) research (Bringing Practice Closer to Research - Seeking Integrity, Sincerity and Authenticity, 2014). In her address, the author argues that, even within the progressive field of PaR, the legacy of traditional scientific research is still quite significant. Particular reference is made to the unsolved issue of artists still having to validate their research according to academic criteria, to the institutional causes of collision between being a practitioner and being a researcher, and to the enforced gap between artistic outcomes and intellectual outcomes of inquiry (despite recent openings towards more “creative” forms of exposition, the written explanatory component still plays a major role in the process of peer-evaluation and career assessment). Why, Schroeder asks, are we still talking of Practice “as” Research? Does not the use of that apparently innocuous element of linguistic conjunction (“as”) hide the conceptual supremacy of research over artistic practice? Does not “Practice as Research” imply that research comes before practice and that practice must be adapted to research, rather than the other way around?
According to Schroeder, if we want to take the alternative PaR paradigm of knowing even further, we should not let academic research (even when embedded in practice) end up defining what practice is and should be through the articulation and exposition of a very specific kind of rationalist/empiricist inquiry. We need to look inside practices in the first place to find artistic methodological approaches and languages that can then lead the way to broader intellectual and cultural debates. The processes of articulation and exposition should not be aimed at a description and explanation of practice by other (superior) academic means; intellectual outcomes should be be seen as integral to artistic outcomes. But what does it take to turn successfully from “Practice as Research” to “Practice Research”? Schroeder suggests we should invest on enabling the aesthetic quality and emotional integrity of the artist. In my opinion, this move could end up widening the gap between academic research and artistic practice.
Drawing on my experience with phenomenological inquiry, and aware of the limitations of such methodology, my PhD project will try engage these critical questions reflexively by trying to “bracket off” the dualism between art and academic research as two irreconcilable modes of inquiry. Indeed, I intend to make the PhD experience a field in and through which intellectual reasoning and cultural discourses can be perceptually re-embodied and communally re-embedded on the one side, while, on the other, aesthetic and emotional processes and outcomes can be taken to a greater level of conceptual and methodological clarity and intelligibility and shared also with more institutionalised audiences.