The Deterritorialization and Reterritorialization of Artistic Research
In the earliest days of developing the discourses pertinent to artistic research, the apparent openness of its territory was vital in order that the varied protagonists engaging with it in the manner of pioneers could each recognise themselves within it while remaining open to the often-divergent needs and natures of others around them. This notionally deterritorialized domain had a utopian quality, serving as an idealized zone in which artists might be able to exist and work on their own terms while contributing to something new: a meta-discourse that would generate new and more inclusive kinds of ‘knowing’. Responding to that potential, in 2009, Kathleen Coessens, Darla Crispin and Anne Douglas published The Artistic Turn: A Manifesto, an early analysis of the emergent artistic research field, using Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Guattari’s metaphorical concepts of deterritorialization and reterritorialization to point up some of the promises – and pitfalls – to be found within the emergent artistic research field. Ten years after the publication of that book, it seems appropriate to return to the text, to reflect on its analysis of that dualistic approach to territory and to test it against more recent developments. This is also an opportunity to point up some of the ‘red flags’ around potential disciplinary shortcomings in artistic research – and to make tentative suggestions as to how these might be overcome. The essay proposes a model that emphasises the rhizomic interconnectedness of the territories of artistic research. It argues that the nature of this ‘saturated connectedness’, free from privileged or marginalised elements and continuously dynamic in its functioning, is as crucial to an understanding of artistic research as is a proper comprehension of the separate identities of the territories themselves.
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