workshop Peter Peters

Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (NL)

One-day workshop on the phenomenon of artistic research.

The practice of artistic research is open-ended, messy, and uncertain. Researching artists are making, questioning, refuting, hoping – and all this at the same time. They are concerned with an idea, a claim, a technology, an experience, a question, and they are working on it, assembling new ideas, claims, technologies, and questions in the process. Yet when we reflect on this practice of doing artistic research, we are often trapped in dualisms: art and science, words and worlds, art practice and art writing, discursive and embodied knowledge, original art works and their representations. To look more in detail at the first dualism, between art and science, one often finds oneself rehearsing cliché notions of what characterizes art as well as science. Art becomes a paragon of unmethodological, autonomous and intuitive work, while science appears uncreative, methodological and articulate. This dichotomy serves an important purpose: it creates space for a notion of artistic research as a potent mixture of the two or a productive middle ground. The normative task that then emerges is to sort out what features, practices, norms from each side can be taken up by artistic research without immediately collapsing the preciously gained turf to one or the other originating fields.

The problem of how to retain the productive middle ground is also prominent when we discuss the exposition of art as research. How is the exposition is to be related to the art practice it sets out to expose? To what extent does the exposition enable the artist to present her work as knowledge? Do the various ways in which the work of art is communicated as research make a difference to what can actually be known through the exposition? In my presentation, I argue that the field of science and technology studies (STS) offers valuable strategies to answer some of these pressing questions. In mobilizing insights from STS, and more specifically building on the work of Bruno Latour, I will suggest new ways of thinking about the exposition of artistic research. Central in this line of thought is the notion of ‘matters of concern’ (Latour 2004; Latour 2005a). Rather than staying within the representational register that characterizes much dualist thinking, I will argue in a performative register that focuses on the ‘work of art’ as an ongoing endeavor of assembling agencies, rather than constructing a finished work that can be (re)presented in a more or less unproblematic way.


Peter Peters studied sociology in Groningen, the Netherlands, with a minor in musicology. He is senior lecturer at the Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. Currently, he is teaching an Artistic Research track in the Master’s of Arts & Culture. In 2008 he was appointed as professor in the research centre ‘Autonomy and the public sphere in the Arts’ of the arts faculties of Zuyd University, Maastricht. In his inaugural address Grensverkeer. Over praktijkonderzoek voor de kunsten [Border Traffic. On practice based research for the Arts], he critically considers the discourse on artistic research. His research topics are artistic research, new aesthetic spaces, site-specific art as context for engaged research, and art in relation to mobile worlds. He is Associate Editor of the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR).