Responsibility and Response-ability: On the Art of Sharing Research and Reshaping Futures in Central and Eastern Europe. An Introduction


In her introductory essay, Majewska-Güde discusses the current status of artistic research practices in Central and Eastern Europe with regard to the question of responsibility and articulates regional-specific concerns and challenges. She problematizes the gap between the ubiquity of artistic research practices and a relative lack of regulatory discourses and instruments as a factor shaping a specific epistemic position for contemporary artistic knowledge production in Central and Eastern Europe. If artistic research practices do not engage in the affirmation of neoliberal regimes of control (accreditation, evaluation, monitoring) or in the promotion of neoliberal notions of knowledge as a commodity, this situation of lack of regulation raises a question of responsibility. The essay also problematizes the question of taking on this responsibility as a form of writing about one’s own artistic research in a scientific context that transforms hegemonic formats of knowledge.

I’m not saying that anything goes. Of course there is discipline; inquiry cannot proceed without it. But it’s the confrontation, the contrast of discourses – to go back to Foucault for a minute – that produces excitement and thus new knowledge.’ 1

My aim was to claim space for the concept and the practices it could inform in knowledge acquisition, development, evaluation, and circulation by bringing the epistemic subject out of hiding: acknowledging the incongruity embedded in habits of working from a systemic failure to recognize that talk about responsibility without directing adequate attention to the knower(s) – to the potentially responsible or irresponsible epistemic agents involved – is indeed futile.’ 2


In this volume of Miejsce. Studia nad sztuką i architekturą XX i XXI wieku, we are interested in the ethical dimension of knowledge production by specific epistemic agents, i.e. artist-researchers based or operating in post-socialist Europe. The aim of the publication is to examine the current state of the ‘amorphous and, to a great extent, unmanageable’ 3 practices of artistic research in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) with regard to the question of responsibility.

The juxtaposition of ‘artistic research’ and ‘responsibility’ in the context of CEE results from a specific set of circumstances. In Central and Eastern Europe, the intensity of the polemics about artistic methods of knowledge production and knowledge transfer have corresponded with a limited process of institutionalization and academization of artistic research.4 Conferences, journals, publications, PhD programs, and regulatory agencies dedicated to artistic research are relatively rare in these parts of Europe.5 At the same time, artistic research has become a common strategy widely disseminated within individual and collective artistic and curatorial practices. This gap between the omnipresence of artistic research and a relative lack of local regulatory discourses and instruments can be characterized as a factor shaping a specific epistemic position for contemporary artistic knowledge production in Central and Eastern Europe. If artistic research practices do not participate to a large extent in the affirmation of neoliberal control regimes (accreditation, evaluation, monitoring) or in the promotion of neoliberal notions of knowledge as an exchangeable commodity, this situation opens up a question of responsibility in new ways.

Since artists and other cultural workers who operate from and within the region are transnationally networked and trained, and produce and disseminate research in several places beyond Central and Eastern Europe, it is not our aim to define a specific collective regional position on artistic research. Rather, we are concerned with critically questioning the actually existing practices and conditions that shape the processes, technologies, and infrastructures of artistic knowledge production in the region. We are interested in an opportunity to articulate regionally specific concerns and challenges that result in the localized practices and languages of artistic research.

As Tom Holert and Johanna Schaffer have argued, ‘the place, status, and function of any claim to research within and outside of arts are discursively and socially produced therefore contestable.’6 They propose unsettling ‘any existing consensus concerning the nature of arts-based research and the arts/science relationship’.7 This introductory essay argues that the lack of such a consensus characterizes artistic research practice in the region of post-socialist Europe. In the following, I will address the recent history of the evaluation and regulation of artistic research and artistic knowledge and further examine the issue of the dissemination of artistic research results through a narrative form of a scientific essay, as a form of performing epistemic responsibility.

Norms-in-the-Making. Evaluating Emerging Knowledges and Different Forms of Knowing in Artistic Research

Artistic research (AR) can provisionally be defined as a transdisciplinary, hybrid practice of artistic knowledge production. On the one hand, the term ‘research’ connects it with the questions of regulation, control procedures, measurable results, usability, and research ethics; on the other hand, the ‘artistic’ component opens up the possibility of certain freedoms from regulatory discourses and points to the possibility of a critical approach to existing control procedures and neoliberal responsibilization.

The history and specificity of the AR debate, and its uneven geographical distribution, affect different degrees of AR institutionalization, regulation, and governance. In the northern and western parts of the EU, artistic research has been dynamically discussed in the last twenty years, which has also led to its institutionalization, academization, and regulation, especially related to the third cycle of education the practice-led doctorates (an example: the Vienna Declaration on Artistic Research embedding practice-based third-cycle studies within higher arts education8). In post-socialist Europe, these debates have had a different dynamic and tended to take place outside or in the margins of the academy, within cultural institutions, or scattered in individual and collective artistic practices. Consequently, it can be argued that AR in CEE has not participate, to the same extent as in other places mentioned, in the affirmation of neoliberal control regimes (accreditation, evaluation, monitoring), i.e., the promotion of neoliberal ideas of knowledge as an exchangeable commodity.

But how does the knowledge produced in artistic research practices in CEE redefine the norms and contemporary concepts of knowledge? To what extent is the knowledge produced in the artistic process alternative or critical? What ethical research norms are created with the practice of artistic research, and once codified, how do they affect the actual practice of artistic research? How do regulations on artistic research, such as the Vienna Declaration on Artistic Research, influence artistic research practices in the region? These are some of the questions that arise from the above assessment of the artistic research situation in the region.

Artistic knowledge as such has been defined by contemporary theorists as non-knowledge, not-yet-knowledge, sensual knowledge, individual or tacit knowledge.9 Conceptualizing the problem of artistic knowledge, most researchers return to the ancient distinction between theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge, situating artistic knowledge within phronesis – practical knowledge that enables appropriate (ethical) action. Theorists also turn to phenomenology, hermeneutics or cognitive science, describing the special nature of artistic knowledge by placing its sphere between understanding and creativity. Regardless of theoretical controversies or attempts to capture the essence of artistic knowledge, one should, first of all, ask about its pragmatic dimension: What do artists know? How are they being taught? What are they being taught?10

In the joint publication What Do Artists Know?, James Elkins formulates these questions as follows: What fragments in the history of arts education are relevant to today’s point of view? Which historical periods and institutions remain relevant to contemporary artistic practice? What do artists know that other people cannot see? And, What kind of knowledge is characteristic of artists? Elkins distinguishes three historical remnants that function in contemporary academies: disegno and drawing, which are remnants of the Baroque academy; the master-student relationship, which was introduced to the academy during the Romantic period; and realistic painting, as a remnant of 19th-century academies. Currently, the vertical master-student relationship, under the Bologna system promoting research and creativity, is gradually replaced by a horizontal relationship of team collaboration and communication.11 In the aforementioned book, Marta Edling describes this formula of education as a pattern derived from the Kantian idea of the impossibility of learning genius. The artist-master remains for the student an older, more mature colleague: the teaching method in this case is the charismatic relationship between the student and the teacher. What happens between them remains hidden, beyond debate, not subject to evaluation or criticism.12

As a consequence of the European reform of education (the Bologna process), the dominant formula of study at the academy is no longer a study practice, but a course designed by the student, consisting of seminar classes and research conducted collectively as part of projects selected from the rich offerings of an art university. In the SHARE Handbook for Artistic Research Education (2013), edited by Mick Wilson and Schelte van Ruiten, the goals of science in the field of artistic research are defined as: generating agents of social change, strengthening creative management skills, mapping contradictions, acquiring experience in the field of dialectical coexistence and polyphonic opinions.

In the countries of the European Union, which has been carrying out intensive efforts to consolidate the higher education system for many years, the various degrees of implementation of the Bologna system generate different formulas of education and thus different intensities of polemics on the artistic methods of knowledge production and artistic education. In many places in Europe, artistic education still functions within the romantic master-student paradigm, replicating clichés of talent and uniqueness but not succumbing to the neoliberal demands of acquiring collaborative and communication skills. However, in the very circulation of art, this academic geography does not really matter, because artists study in different places, and through moving around, they build a network of contacts with its own dynamics and carry out their projects simultaneously in the center and on the margins of the art world. Within the framework of both artistic circuits (local education and global circulation), artistic knowledge is also differently defined.

In the case of artistic practice using the format of artistic research, we are confronted not only with acquiring and transferring knowledge but, most of all, with the production of knowledge; that situates art as a process of constructive thinking. Therefore, it is not about the transfer of knowledge from the master to the student, from the trainer to the trained one, or about its penetration from one field (science) into another (art), but about the process of creating a certain surplus value. The specificity of this new knowledge was described in a convincing and non-essentialist way by Henk Slager in his book The Pleasure of Research (2015). This author writes that, in contrast to scientific research with its emphasis on expert knowledge, the field of art related to the production of knowledge deals with experience-based knowledge. While scientific research is often characterized as purposeful uselessness, artistic research always arises from commitment, focusing on social rather than academic goals. The status of error in the context of scientific and artistic research is also different. However, Slager continues by stating that artistic research as a form of idiosyncratic research must be able to answer the question of how to describe the methodology used.13 Writing about the methods of artistic research, Henk Borgdorff distinguishes a whole spectrum of strategies, concluding that artistic research is a hybrid formula that uses both experimental and hermeneutic methods – such as laboratory experiment, qualitative and quantitative research, historiography, interpretation, description or critical theory.14 Another researcher of this field, Mika Hannula, in a text from 2009 entitled ‘Catch Me If You Can: Chances and Challenges of Artistic Research’, describing the methodologies of artistic research, invokes the Aristotelian paradigm of good practice as the idea of articulating subjective opinions that remain understandable, communicative, coherent, sincere, systematic, credible, and relevant. He also emphasizes the openness of artistic research, defining it as an activity that has a defined or designated direction but that is ultimately open to chance. Without distinguishing specific procedures, however, he points to the relationship between artistic research and developments in the field of qualitative research. Hannula writes that artistic research is content-focused, self-critical, and self-reflective. The author also emphasizes the need to act in accordance with the open-source principle, which should govern the field of artistic research: Hannula claims that the principle of universal access – known from other fields of knowledge – indicates the possibility of defining and using localized, individual, and contextual knowledge as something commonly available.15 This almost utopian vision of the complete democratization of knowledge and access to knowledge has, however, been criticized as one of the manifestations of the economization of knowledge.

Thus, theoretical texts on artistic research often articulate awareness of the potential instrumentalisation of artistic knowledge. The question is whether the effect of the dissemination of artistic research is a more critical and democratic culture, or whether it is rather that art fits into the neoliberal logic of cognitive capitalism, governed by the laws of utility and capitalization of knowledge. The neoliberal language used in reports on arts education in the EU, which define culture as a factor contributing to economic growth, seems to confirm the latter possibility. Recently, artistic research has been included as a research and development method in the seventh edition of the Frascati Manual, which contains basic definitions and classifications of scientific research.16

Another important problem that requires analysis in the context of contemporary art education, understood as the production of knowledge, is the issue of language. In the essay ‘When Form Has Become Attitude – And Beyond’, Thierry de Duve pointed to the historical evolution within the academy, where the nineteenth-century triad of talent, skills, and imitation was replaced by the Bauhaus movement with creativity, focus on individual media, and inventiveness. The current condition, according to de Duve, is based on the pop culture paradigm operating within the triad of attitude, practice, and deconstruction.17

Of course, research has always been an element of creation – but now, in a deskilled world of art, research become a skill or ability, a part of artistic education, and, as Barbara Bolt states, one of the tasks of an artistic researcher is ‘articulating a meta-discussion around the effects of artistic exploration.’ 18

In the heat of theorizing about artistic research, there are numerous attempts to configure scientific research and art. For example, Kathrin Busch has distinguished as many as eight levels or degrees of the relationship between research and art – from integrating elements of scientific research to complete hybridization.19 Bryndis Snaebjörnsdóttir proposes understanding of artistic research as ‘yet another framework/structure that artists must or might choose to negotiate in the process of transition from studio to public exposition.’20

The context of all these changes is the democratization, decentralization, and pluralization of the concept of scientific knowledge (Latour’s move from science to research; Heidegger’s science – as a research principal of testing the unknown in terms of the already known). New methodological approaches and methods of cognition are connected with the undermining of the Western colonial paradigm of science - also through a post-metaphysical feminist epistemology - which uses concepts such as situated knowledge, individual knowledge, embodied knowledge, and partial perspective. A particularly interesting area in this context is how new materialism, causative materialism, and onto-epistemology are rewriting the relations between the word and the world, taking into account the agency of matter that is, as Estelle Barrett writes, ‘recognition that the instruments and objects of research are not passive, but appear as co-producers in collaboration.’21 In her text on the relationship between feminist new materialism and artistic research, Dorota Golańska quotes Henry Plotkin’s definition of knowledge that correlates with the experiential turn in arts22: ‘Knowledge is every state of the organism on which the relation with the world has been expressed on’.23

One has to consider the political and social condition of this ‘turn to experience’– the information society, functioning in the process of constant exchange, circulation, and production of knowledge. Within this paradigm, culture and art are prescribed as a source of innovation and economic development. The situation of the EU as a global producer of knowledge (innovation, creativity, research) should also be emphasized.

Theoretical texts on artistic research articulate awareness of increasingly corporatized environments of cognitive-affective capitalism and argue that artistic research ‘participates in this enforcement of biopolitical models.’24 Tom Holert, however, puts forward a notion of active epistemic functioning of art writing that contemporary art’s practices of knowledge represent ‘critical-investigative, imaginative forms of reasoning’25 and that ‘an active epistemic functioning implies an (inter)activity of art in determining what is being called knowledge and for whom’.26 Holert continues by stating,

Contemporary art as both an institutional framework and a multitude of individualistic artistic practices not only proves to be complicit in fostering neoliberal notions of knowledge as an endlessly exchangeable commodity and instrument of social hierarchization, but also can provide in rare but important cases the very organizational structures, theoretical devices, and material contexts to sustain multilayered work on the dislocation and repurposing of knowledge itself.27

Recognizing different stages of AR regulation and academization and discussing codified and non-codified practices of artistic research and its dissemination might help us to understand the conditions required for an active epistemic functioning of art.

…the desire to write differently, the desire to situate oneself in the world differently

As already indicated, the literature on artistic research is very extensive but can be divided into two types of texts, which are characterized by differently situated authors. The first type are theoretical or genealogical texts by academic researchers on artistic research, to which I have referred in the previous sections. The second are texts by ‘artists with PhDs’, which represent a dissemination of artistic research itself and take various forms of self-commentary, from autotheory 28 to theoretical scholarly essays.29 Of course, this classification is not unambiguous, since researchers who explore artistic research do not only do so from transdisciplinary perspectives and positions but also often use strategies such as involving a participating observer or a fully-fledged artistic collaborator that complicate their relationship with the topic.30

In connection with the aforementioned limited institutionalization of artistic research in CEE, the second type of writings is more prevalent than scholarly synthesis and monographs aimed at legitimizing AR as an alternative form of knowledge production.31 The writings by artist-researchers perform a different form of legitimization of AR and are characterized by methodological individualism. It is the artists who decide ‘what is being called knowledge and for whom’.32 The authors often create ‘a multi-level narrative of text, typography, images in which analysis, argument, anecdote, allegory, and poetic association overlap and intersect’,33 and this does not always conform to the existing formats of academic criticality and critical knowledge. In addition, the artist-researchers offer narrative forms of dissemination of artistic research results, where utterance in the first person is incorporated into a scientific text, stereotypically presumed to be neutral.34 If in fiction, ‘writing in the first person is not about truth, but risk’,35 in artistic research papers, it can be understood as assuming or performing epistemic responsibility. Lorraine Code defined ‘epistemic responsibility’ as an attitude or quality related to a particular form of courage, writing,

Courage is as much an intellectual virtue as any other in this context, for it requires courage to become reconciled to dealing in areas where certainty is not possible, where the subject matter is amorphous and, to a great extent, unmanageable, and where the kind of understanding that can be reached will fall far short of perfect understanding.36

Questioning knowledge claims from an epistemic responsibility perspective raises the questions of ‘Whose claims? When? And under what circumstances?’37 rather than questions on the supposed criticality of new knowledge. In his essay on critical legitimacy of knowledge, Armen Avanessian juxtaposes the most advanced contemporary positions of criticality38 with speculative and poietic practice of ‘thinking through doing and a transformative integration of parts into a (new) whole’.39 Avanessian understands speculation as thinking beyond the present moment, but also not as just thinking about the future but thinking from the future. In this context, Avanessian asks questions about the relation between critical knowledge in general and theories and practices of contemporary art. He passionately argues against critique that legitimizes itself and its subject, instead postulating ‘an overwriting of the subject by texts’,40 arguing that ‘one’s own imperfections will then point the way to change future norms.’41 This urge to experience and experiment, to be ‘moved, influenced, or re-oriented though aesthetic encounters with texts in unexpected ways’,42 characterizes the strategies of artists who write about their own research practice.43

Marina Vishmidt writes about the ‘experimental attitude’ of artistic research that results from the relationship of artistic research to reality – from the perspective of a transformation, ‘which is therefore antagonistic in its stance rather than merely inquisitive.’44 This transformative antagonistic attitude can also be captured by the notion of response-ability, i.e., ‘an ability to respond to the world beyond oneself, as well as a willingness to recognize its existence’.45 Response-ability in relation to artistic research means ‘not simply or only the taking up of the responsibility that always already lay before us and constitute[s] us, but also the iterative (re)opening of responsiveness towards the potentiality of perceiving and differently enacting possibilities’.46 The term, introduced by Donna Haraway in the context of multispecies encounters, relates in art primarily to the ways in which we tell stories about the world.47 It is not about the stories that teach us about the world, but about the stories that reconnect us with it differently.

In 1978 artistic duo KwieKulik held a participatory performance, ‘Heavy Complaints Kill Life’, in the Dziekanka Gallery in Warsaw. In the course of the action, twenty-three uninformed participants were asked to stand in the middle of the gallery space and talk about the difficult life in Poland at the time. These grievances were written on heavy objects, which were then placed in a bag suspended by a string. Once the bag was too heavy, the string broke. The bag collapsed, killing the laboratory rat placed below it. The event prompted the words ‘You are all responsible for that’ to be projected onto the wall, revealing the lack of response-ability both of the participants in the project and also of the project’s initiators.48 This essay is a tribute to the laboratory rat.

Response-ability, or, the transformative power of artistic research

This volume of Miejsce is the result of a symposium held in 2021 at the Department of Visual Culture and Artistic Research of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.49 One of the aims of the symposium was to critically examine the interface between artistic research and educational practices in Central and Eastern Europe and ask questions about responsibility in connection with artistic research, understood as a working method, an educational strategy, and a mode of production of art. Contributors discussed artistic educational practices inside and outside the art academy in the context of the relationship between civic interest and artistic research. Another set of questions investigated during the symposium related to the specific local traditions and conditions of artistic research in relation to the question of civic engagement, which included a reflection on possible strategies researchers can adopt to conduct responsive and responsible artistic research.

During the presentations and resulting discussions, the following questions were raised: How can we identify the social needs for which artistic research is formatted? How can artistic research make a significant and meaningful contribution to society? What are the responsible ways of sharing artistic research (research results)? How can we establish ethical relationships between the researcher and the researched (in the case of research involving other people and non-human beings)? These considerations constitute the central focus of the essays gathered in this volume.

The volume begins with two theoretical essays dealing with the issue of (alleged) art responsibility, written by academic authors with different perspectives on the subject, and previously discussed in this introductory essay as an external (art history) and internal (art practice) situatedness. In his theoretical introduction, Tom Holert develops a reflection on the relation between artistic production and responsibility in the context of contemporary artistic research discourse. He argues that the modernist conception of art as autonomous and thus essentially irresponsible is being challenged by rules and regulations pertaining to research ethics. Amplified by a looming urge to question and unlearn codes of subjugation inherited from colonialism, nationalism, capitalism, and patriarchy, the ethical framework of artistic research becomes – in Holert words – a site for debate and negotiation. He argues that the more knowledge (production) is understood as a key competence of contemporary art practitioners and institutions, the greater the need to attend to the intersection of epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and politics and their vicissitudes. Holert’s paper focuses on art’s alleged responsibility as a site of knowledge generation and inquiry in the context of today’s predicament of endless and multiple crises.

Joanna Zylinska’s article, ‘Performing Planetarity as a Method of Responsible Artistic Research’, on the other hand, offers a situated theory that responds to the multiple crises with a radical artistic program of performing planetarity. Zylinska’s planetary perspective is anchored in the socio-political concerns of the here and now: from the ecological and economic crises to the problems of individual and social coexistence. Her concept of artistic practice results both in a performative, idiosyncratic methodology and in a ‘minimal ethic’ for practicing art. The article negotiates the complex responsibilities in AR in a context of human responsibilities that must be exercised by humans not only toward each other but also towards non-humans including the planet Earth.

The following case studies, written or co-authored (as in the case of Natalia Romik’s visual essay) by practicing artists, present artistic projects that explore the relationship between artistic inquiry and the notion of responsibility in a variety of ways: from speculative and poetic reflections to genealogical and historical investigations.

The subject of Irena Lagator’s ‘A Diary of the Ceaseless Search for a “Society of Unlimited Responsibility”’ is an artistic critique of the society of limited responsibility that arose in the context of the post-Yugoslav state, which she has been practicing in her artistic work for two decades. The artist discusses the theoretical background of her utopian project of a society of unlimited responsibility and questions whether artistic responsibility could also be seen as unlimited. Lagator proposes to understand artistic responsibility as a social and aesthetic practice that relates to the world in which it emerges by critically understanding and decoding the structural centers of power. Lagator’s ‘Diary’ combines speculative thinking with a descriptive analysis of her own artistic work, which should not be understood as an illustration of the theory but as its material implementation.

Based on a case study of The Beauty of Hungary 1985–1996, a work by Hungarian neo-avant-garde artist Gyula Pauer, Agnes Eperjesi’s article examines the relationship between art and gender politics in socialist Hungary. Eperjesi presents her artistic research project You Should Feel Honored as a performative artistic response to Gyula Pauer’s sculpture and its critical reception. By visualizing the ethical dimension of Pauer’s work and problematizing the responsibility of the artist, the project aims to rewrite local art history from a socially committed feminist perspective. The essay examines a fundamental question in the artist-model relationship, the question of consent, and also addresses the complacence of art in face of the sexualization of the female body in the late Kádár era. Eperjesi positions her research project as a response to the harms that contemporary criticism has failed to grasp. Thus her text represents artistic research as response-able in the Haraway sense. It argues that when criticism is not sufficient, artistic research provides possibilities of speculative storytelling and overwriting.

Zofia Nierodzińska, an artist working as a curator and director of a municipal art gallery, discusses collective curating as research in her text ‘Locating Collaboration: On Affinity Institution’. Her essay focuses on the similarities and differences in situated, community-based curatorial practices that address pressing social and environmental issues applied in diverse contexts. Nierodzińska examines contemporary curatorial strategies based on commoning and collaboration to answer the question: Is collectivism linked to a specific cultural space? Nierodzińska’s reflections, which focus on her own curatorial and activist practice, are rooted in both the concept of New Institutionalism and the local historical concept of the Museum of Current Art. Based on her practice and the theoretical framework of contemporary curating, the author proposes the project of an ‘affinity institution’ as a possible response-able direction of development for cultural institutions.

Dorota Walentynowicz’s essay ‘Between Woman and Camera – On Role Models Produced through Photography’, in a spirit of feminist bricolage, weaves together various discourses that have driven the expansion of the photographic industry and technology both historically and today. Photography is understood by the author as a socially functioning medium that is subject to commercial strategies. Walentynowicz refers to her own artistic research on how different technological and commercial discourses affect gender relations and role models in society. She analyzes discourses aimed at constructing a relationship between woman and camera – first as a modern tool of liberation, then as a necessary household utensil of a resourceful housewife. Walentynowicz also discusses gender-specific discourses in photography in socialist Poland, and concludes with a reflection on the current spread of digital photographic images and the ability they offer female-identifying persons to bridge the domestic and public spheres.

In their joint visual essay ‘Memory and Art in 1:1 Scale: From Aesthetic Forensics to Counter-monuments’, Natalia Romik, Aleksandra Janus and Kuba Szreder present collective reflections resulting from the transdisciplinary project Hiding Places. The Architecture of Survival, realized in the form of a research exhibition. The exhibition was designed as an artistic homage to the architecture of survival, the hiding places built and used by Jews during the Holocaust. The essay focuses on the methods of artistic research, locating them in an ever-expanding field of contemporary art at the interface of memory and history studies. It problematizes the issue of commemorating hidden architecture through a range of artistic practices and research methods such as investigative aesthetics and 1:1 scale. At the same time, it addresses art in the extended field as located in a distributed network of interconnected spaces and proposes a definition of artistic research as a form of coalition formed by artist-researchers and allies from parallel fields.

This volume is the result of a symposium that took place before the war in Ukraine and it does not address this crisis. Not only has the situation changed, but the situation has changed us. All the discussed notions such as responsibility and Central and Eastern Europe have also become rewritten by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Our response-ability proved limited, as we were not able to address the war in this volume, but we will continue working. Слава Україні!



  1. Joan Wallach Scott, The Fantasy of Feminist History, Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2012, 147. ↩︎
  2. Lorraine Code, Epistemic Responsibility, New York: State University of New York Press, 2020, xii. ↩︎
  3. Ibid., 254. ↩︎
  4. A good illustration of AR geography is EARN (European Artistic Research Network), which was set up to ‘share and exchange knowledge and experience in artistic research; supporting mobility, exchange and dialogue between art researchers’; it is a collaboration of art academies from Helsinki, Utrecht, Vienna, Malmo, London, Venice, Gothenburg, Brussels, Leeds, and Dublin. See http://​www​.artresearch​.eu/. ↩︎
  5. Regarding international conferences on AR in the region, one should mention X-disciplinary Congress on Artistic Research and Related Matters: To Research or Not to Research in the Post-disciplinary Academy? at Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania, 14th–17th October, 2021. ↩︎
  6. Tom Holert and Johanna Schaffer, ‘Preface’ in: Troubling Research: Performing Knowledge in the Arts, Edited and with contributions by Carola Dertnig, Diedrich Diederichsen, Tom Holert, Johannes Porsch, Johanna Schaffer, Stefanie Seibold, Axel Stockburger, Berlin: Sternberg Press 2014, 13–17, 13. ↩︎
  7. Ibid., 14. ↩︎
  8. Vienna Declaration on Artistic Research, see: https://​societyforartisticresearch​.org/​w​p​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​/​u​p​l​o​a​d​s​/​2​0​2​0​/​1​0​/​V​i​e​n​n​a​-​D​e​c​l​a​r​a​t​i​o​n​-​o​n​-​A​r​t​i​s​t​i​c​-​R​e​s​e​a​r​c​h​-​F​i​n​a​l​.​pdf. ↩︎
  9. See for instance Sarat Maharaj, ‘Know-how and No-How: stopgap notes on “method” in visual art as knowledge production’, ART&RESEARCH: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods. Volume 2. No. 2. (Spring 2009). ↩︎
  10. Reflections in this section are based on my text ‘How artists are made’ published in Agnieszka Grodzińska, Classy of an Art Class, a two-volume publication, Nawigacje/Navigations and Ćwiczenia/Exercises, Academy of Art in Szczecin, Department of Painting and New Media/Wydawnictwo Artystyczno-Naukowe Wydziału Malarstwa i Nowych Mediów, 2018, 8–12. ↩︎
  11. James Elkins, ‘Introduction’ in: James Elkins ed., What Do Artists Know?, Stone Art Theory Institutes, 3, Band, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012, 1–12, 2. ↩︎
  12. James Elkins, ‘Histories of Studio Art Teaching’, in: Elkins 2012, 13–25, 17. ↩︎
  13. Henk Slager, The Pleasure of Research, Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2015. ↩︎
  14. Henk Borgdorff, ‘The Debate on Research in the Arts’, the text in reference to the lectures given by the author in Berlin, Ghent, Gothenburg, and Amsterdam in 2005, available at http://​www​.pol​.gu​.se/​d​i​g​i​t​a​l​A​s​s​e​t​s​/​1​3​2​2​/​1​3​2​2​7​1​3​_​t​h​e​_​d​e​b​a​t​e​_​o​n​_​r​e​s​e​a​r​c​h​_​i​n​_​t​h​e​_​a​r​t​s​.​pdf. ↩︎
  15. Mika Hanulla, ‘Catch Me If You Can: Chances and Challenges of Artistic Research’ ART&RESEARCH: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods. Volume 2. No. 2. (Spring 2009). ↩︎
  16. ]Frascati Manual. Measurement of Scientific and Research Activity. Proposed Standard Procedures for Statistical Surveys in the Field of Research and Development Activity, 2002, available at https://​www​.oecd​.org/​s​t​i​/​i​n​n​o​/​F​r​a​s​c​a​t​i​-​1​9​6​3​.​pdf. ↩︎
  17. Thierry de Duve, ‘When Form Has Become Attitude – and Beyond’, in: Zoya Kocur and Simon Leung, eds., Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, second edition, 2013, 19–31. ↩︎
  18. Barbara Bolt, ‘Artistic Research: A Performative Paradigm’, Parse Journal, 2016, (No 3), 129–142. ↩︎
  19. Kathrin Busch, ‘Artistic Research and the Poetics of Knowledge’, ART&RESEARCH: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods. Volume 2. No. 2. (Spring 2009). ↩︎
  20. Bryndis Snaebjörnsdóttir, ‘Understanding of Artistic Research’, Statement on artist’s website, https://​snaebjornsdottirwilson​.com/​p​u​b​l​i​c​a​t​i​o​n​s​/​w​r​i​t​i​n​g​s​-​b​y​-​t​h​e​-​a​r​t​i​s​t​s​/​u​n​d​e​r​s​t​a​n​d​i​n​g​s​-​o​f​-​a​r​t​i​s​t​i​c​-​r​e​s​e​a​rch/. ↩︎
  21. Estelle Barrett, ‘Introduction: Extending the Field: Invention, Application and Innovation’ in: Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt eds., Creative Arts Enquiry. In Material Inventions: Applying Creative Arts Research. London: I.B. Tauris. 2014, 3. ↩︎
  22. Dorothea von Hantelmann, ‘The Experiential Turn’, in: Elizabeth Carpenter ed., On Performativity. Living Collections Catalogue, vol. 1., Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2014. https://​walkerart​.org/​c​o​l​l​e​c​t​i​o​n​s​/​p​u​b​l​i​c​a​t​i​o​n​s​/​p​e​r​f​o​r​m​a​t​i​v​i​t​y​/​e​x​p​e​r​i​e​n​t​i​a​l​-​t​u​rn/. ↩︎
  23. Dorota Golańska, ‘O praktykach i procesie. Badania artystyczne a mechanizmy wytwarzania wiedzy w ujęciu nowomaterialistycznym’. [On practices and process. Artistic research and the mechanisms of knowledge production in terms of new materialism], in: Olga Cielemęcka and Monika Rogowska-Stangret eds., Feministyczne nowe materializmy: usytuowane kartografie, Lublin: e-naukowiec, 2018, 196–219, 210. Quotation from F.R. Wilson, The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture, Pantheon Books, New York 1998, 51. ↩︎
  24. Tom Holert, Knowledge Beside Itself. Contemporary Art’s Epistemic Politics, Berlin: Sternberg Press 2020, 68. ↩︎
  25. Ibid., 17. ↩︎
  26. Ibid., 15. ↩︎
  27. Ibid., 18. ↩︎
  28. On autotheory, see for instance Lauren Fournier, Autotheory as Feminist Practice in Art, Writing, and Criticism, Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2021. ↩︎
  29. For academic articles on AR by artists, see for instance The Journal for Artistic Research (JAR), an international, online, open-access and peer-reviewed journal, available at https://​jar​-online​.net/en. ↩︎
  30. See for instance Magdalena Zamorska, ‘SPLOTY, ZGRZYTY, OSOBNOŚCI: Czy badania artystyczne robią tylko artystki i artyści? O lęku kompetencyjnym i uldze dyskursywnej’, Czas Kultury, 7 (2021), https://​czaskultury​.pl/​a​r​t​y​k​u​l​/​s​p​l​o​t​y​-​z​g​r​z​y​t​y​-​o​s​o​b​n​o​s​c​i​-​c​z​y​-​b​a​d​a​n​i​a​-​a​r​t​y​s​t​y​c​z​n​e​-​r​o​b​i​a​-​t​y​l​k​o​-​a​r​t​y​s​t​k​i​-​i​-​a​r​t​y​s​c​i​-​o​-​l​e​k​u​-​k​o​m​p​e​t​e​n​c​y​j​n​y​m​-​i​-​u​l​d​z​e​-​d​y​s​k​u​r​s​y​w​n​ej/. ↩︎
  31. In term of synthesis, one should mention Vytautas Michelkevičius, Atlas of Diagrammatic Imagination: Maps in Research, Art and Education, Vilnius: Vilnius Academy of the Arts, 2019, as well as the edited volume of Sztuka i Dokumentacja 14 (2016), Sekcja 1 / Section 1. Badania inspirujące się sztuką: sztuka i humanistyka / Art Based Research: Arts and Humanities, edited by Marta Kosińska, available at: https://​zbrojowniasztuki​.pl/​p​u​b​l​i​k​a​c​j​e​/​c​z​a​s​o​p​i​s​m​a​/​s​z​t​u​k​a​-​i​-​d​o​k​u​m​e​n​t​a​c​j​a​/​s​z​t​u​k​a​-​i​-​d​o​k​u​m​e​n​t​a​c​j​a​-​n​r​-​1​4​-​2​0​1​6​,​1​003. ↩︎
  32. Holert 15. ↩︎
  33. Holert and Schaffer, 15. ↩︎
  34. Code xxvii. ↩︎
  35. Estelle Hoy, ‘An Interview with Constance Debré’, Spike Magazine, ‘On Vulnerability’, 7, (Autumn 2022), 52–57, 55. ↩︎
  36. Code 254. ↩︎
  37. Ibid. ↩︎
  38. Armen Avanessian refers to Irit Rogoff’s embodied criticality; see Irit Rogoff, ‘Smuggling: An Embodied Criticality’, Transversal, August 2006, 2, available at: https://​xenopraxis​.net/​r​e​a​d​i​n​g​s​/​r​o​g​o​f​f​_​s​m​u​g​g​l​i​n​g​.​pdf. ↩︎
  39. Armen Avanessian, Overwrite. Ethics of Knowledge – Poetics of Existence, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2017, 38. ↩︎
  40. Ibid., 16. ↩︎
  41. Ibid., 41. ↩︎
  42. Martha Kenney, ‘Fables of Response-ability: Feminist Science Studies as Didactic Literature’, Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. Vol. 5 No. 1 (2019): Special Section on Crip Technoscience available at: https://​catalystjournal​.org/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​/​c​a​t​a​l​y​s​t​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​v​i​e​w​/​2​9​5​8​2​/​2​4​792. ↩︎
  43. For the experimental aspect of artistic research, see also Anka Leśniak ‘Metoda Artystyczno-Badawcza. Cele, Środki i Przykłady Zastosowania’ [Art and Research Method. Objectives, Means and Examples of Use], Sztuka i Dokumentacja, 20 (2019), 127–137. ↩︎
  44. Marina Vischmidt, Speculation as a Mode of Production: Forms of Value Subjectivity in Art and Capital, Chicago, Il: Haymarket Books, 2019, second ed. 26. ↩︎
  45. Marc Higgins, Unsettling Responsibility in Science Education: Indigenous Science, Deconstruction, and the Multicultural Science Education Debate, (Palgrave Studies in Educational Futures), Berlin: Springer Nature, 2021, 274, available at https://​library​.oapen​.org/​h​a​n​d​l​e​/​2​0​.​5​0​0​.​1​2​6​5​7​/​4​3​291. ↩︎
  46. Ibid. ↩︎
  47. Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016, 26. ↩︎
  48. In her text, in which she comments on this action, Wiktoria Szczupacka has proposed a poetic concept of responsibility, defining responsibility in relation to bell hooks’s notion of love as ‘an action, never simply a feeling’. See Wiktoria Szczupacka, ‘Responsibility Is an Action, Never Simply a Feeling: Zofia Kulik’s Alice’s Adventures in Fucked Wonderland, or, Cleaning Instead of Talking in the Context of the Polish Neo-Avant-Garde of the 1970s’ in: Agata Jakubowska ed., Zofia Kulik. Methodology, My Love, Warsaw: Museum of Modern Art, 2019, 99–115. ↩︎
  49. https://​wbask​.asp​.waw​.pl/​2​0​2​1​/​1​1​/​0​4​/​1​0​-​l​e​c​i​e​-​w​z​k​w​-​s​e​m​i​n​a​r​i​u​m​/​?​f​b​c​l​i​d​=​I​w​A​R​2​y​H​C​d​P​p​s​o​e​Z​B​M​9​c​a​D​K​I​h​o​h​s​k​o​x​D​g​0​U​A​6​o​H​b​D​F​l​C​c​c​M​9​3​1​-​Y​0​2​p​3​z​c​R​FEM. ↩︎

Karolina Majewska-Güde

Karolina Majewska-Güde, PhD, is a researcher, art historian, and curator. Her research focuses on the East Central European neo-avant-gardes, feminist epistemologies, performance art, and contemporary issues of circulation, translation, and knowledge-production through art-based research. She is a member of the research collective pisze/mówi/robi, which combines performative and interpretative research on artistic archives. Her recent book Ewa Partum’s Artistic Practice: An Atlas of Continuity in Different Locations was published by Transcript in 2021.