Research and visual art have coloured the context of many activities developed by Henk Slager over the last five years. Significant contributions to the debate on the situation of research in visual art resulted from his Professorship in Artistic Research and his position as Dean of the Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design (MaHKU) leading to productions such as the yearly Dutch Artistic Research Even (DARE) and the publication of the biannual MaHKUzine, Journal of Artistic Research. See www.mahku.nl
In 2006, Henk Slager initiated – together with Jan Kaila and Gertrud Sandqvist – the European Artistic Research Network (EARN), a network investigating the consequences of artistic research for current art education in symposia, expert meetings, and presentations such as A Certain Ma-ness (Amsterdam 2008), Epistemic Encounters (Utrecht 2009), Arts Research: Publics and Purposes (Dublin 2010), Tables of Thought (Helsinki 2010), The Academy Strikes Back (Brussels 2010), and Art as a Thinking Process (Venice 2011).
Departing from a similar focus on artistic research, Henk Slager produced various curatorial projects such as Flashcube (Leeum, Seoul 2007), Shelter 07 (The Freedom of Public Art in the Cover of Urban Space, City of Harderwijk 2007), Translocalmotion (co-curator 7th Shanghai Biennale 2008), Nameless Science (Apexart, New York 2009), Becoming Bologna (Collatoral Project Venice Biennale 2009), Critique of Archival Reason (Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin 2010), Artistic Anthropology (NJP Art Center, Seoul 2010), As the Academy Turns (Collaborative project Manifesta 8, Murcia 2010) and Any-Medium-Whatever (Georgian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2011).
In The Pleasure of Research, Henk Slager treats the above-mentioned activities and projects as points of inspiration and shows how the discussion on artistic research delving into issues such as knowledge production, artistic thinking, medium-specificity, context-responsiveness, and counter-archival display, has affected the current state of art and education. He concludes that today’s debate on art education and artistic research echoes the semiotics debate in the 1970s, in which a formatting, academic order tried to discipline semiotics into a traditional, academic domain. Therefore, a reconsideration of artistic research is currently required; a reconsideration in line with Roland Barthes’ former response to a semiotics in the process of becoming static. In Henk Slager’s view that requires a stance where artistic research is considered a gaya scienza: a temporary autonomous activity focusing on the intellectual pleasure of an experimental method and an implicated form of artistic thought.
The Pleasure of Research is published in the publication series of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. Previous contributors to this series include Mika Hannula, Juha Suoranta, Tere Vaden and Jan Svenungsson. For more information: www.kuva.fi/portal/julkaisut or email: henri.wegelius(at)kuva.fi