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170731 UE Black visuality, performance, and performativity (2021W)

Research as practice, practice as research

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 30 participants
Language: English



MO 04.10.2021_16.45-20.00_Digital MO 18.10.2021_16.45-20.00_Digital MO 15.11.2021_16.45-20.00_Digital MO 29.11.2021_16.45-20.00_DigitalMO 13.12.2021_16.45-20.00_Digital MO 10.01.2022_16.45-20.00_DigitalMO 24.01.2022_16.45-20.00_Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

This is a seminar based on a non-dualistic idea of practice as research. Throughout the course, we will study several strands of theory and global art perspectives which propose non-traditional and creative ways of engaging in artistic research. The emphasis will be on exploring (and perhaps designing) new methodologies for doing research differently; honing instinctual methodologies around creatively capturing, through one’s practice, intangible and/or sensory experiences such as listening beyond what is audible, visualizing beyond what is visible, re-membering what is dismembered (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o), and/or imagining the in-between, in the gaps. Students will be supported and encouraged to think towards an Autohistoria‐teoría approach (Gloria Anzaldúa) which embraces and foregrounds the researcher's subjectivity rather than attempting to limit it, as it is the norm in empirical research.

Throughout the course, embodied practices and community based (and democratized) ways of knowledge creation will be explored. Emphasis will be placed on performative practices which rest in the intersection of art practice and research e.g. Theaster Gates (The black Monks of Missisipi), Torkwase Dyson (Dark Adaptive), and Arthur Jafa among others; as well as those which forefront different ways of knowing, and which intersect the traditional/spiritual with art practice, and research e.g., in the works of South African performance artists Buhlebezwe Siwani, Sikhumbuzo Makhandula, and Khanyisile Mintho Mbongwa. We will also explore several coordinates of black performativity, centering our conversations around theories of black visuality and the practice of refusal, as captured in the scholarship of Tina Campt.

The course will also study ways of (and practices which) engage with performance, performativity, and theatricality. The works of Kehinde Wiley and Zanele Muholi become relevant here. Similarly, some groundbreaking exhibitions that have taken place over the years such as Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, 2013 (Brown Foundation Gallery) also become relevant. In terms of theory, special emphasis will be placed on scholarships which challenge the conventional textocentric/scriptocentric approaches to research. The works of thinkers who make up the Practicing Refusal Collective (PR Collective) become relevant here. However, more focus will be put upon non-western, and post-colonial based/driven scholarship and approaches to research and knowledge creation; taking some of our cue from the performative, visual, textual, and/or audio prepositions and outputs put forward by spaces such as SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, and the Center for the Less Good Idea (by William Kentridge) in Johannesburg (to mention a few).

Our aim for offering this course is to equip students with the tools and resources needed to develop a research-based practice (practice as research) which is centered around one’s context and situatedness. We want to offer an opportunity for our students to critically re-explore performative languages, media and disciplines; and regenerate the lines of discourse which are closest related to their practice. In the process, students will also learn to develop and hone instinctual methodologies for doing research; as well as explore and design other methodologies of doing research differently which are most fitting to their practice, and which are linked to new ways of thinking. We want to encourage collaboration, togetherness, as well as the practice of working across disciplines.

Assessment and permitted materials

The course will take place bi-weekly, and will follow a seminar format. Each seminar will center around an impulse text, offered as a trigger for critical thought and sensory processes. Furthermore, the seminars will also feature presentations, discussions and creative activities. Other methods will include:

-Establishing a discursive relationship between traditional forms of research and Artistic research by hosting conversations that explore issues of subjectivity. Here, we will discuss various methodologies that center personal histories, and how such histories overlap with collective histories. We will explore themes around cultural appropriation and representation; diving into theories and opinions that push and define boundaries of appropriation and representation. Students will begin to design research trajectories based on their respective thematic concerns.

-Looking at artists/projects whose practices can be considered as research. Here, students will be guided into designing individual research structures based on the intersection of practice and research, and on personal histories and subjectivity. They will take their cue from studying works of artists, performers, thinkers, and spaces the likes of Theaster Gates (The black Monks of Missisipi), Torkwase Dyson (Dark Adaptive), Arthur Jafa-Love Is the message, the message is death, Tina Campt -Black visuality and practices of refusal, SAVVY Contemporary Berlin, Center for the less good Idea Johannesburg, SCCA TAMALE – Ghana, Decolonizing the Archive, London, etc.

-Discussing different approaches that can qualify as Artistic forms of research. Here, students will work as individuals or in groups on a mini research project. Togetherness, collaboration, and the practice of working across mediums, is highly encouraged on this segment of the course.

Students will regularly read and excerpt, summarize, and/or comment on texts. Videos, images, artist websites and/or documentaries will be viewed by students - either individually in preparation of the class, or collectively during the class sessions, where specific strands of artistic research will be discussed. Additionally, short creative or reflexive exercises will be given occasionally and serve as a base for further discussions in class. The class will utilise very performative approaches, and so students need to keep an open mind. Students will also be assessed on a short presentations (individually or in small groups) on subjects of their own choosing within the scope of the seminar topics and conduct a mini-research project (mid-term), as well as a final project (with an accompanying essay).

Readiness to read texts, view audiovisual works, learn in a performative atmosphere, and converse and write academically in English (lecturers will help and give advice!) is required.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

This is an English taught course, and hence, competency with the language is a requirement. While having an existing practice (ideally in art, performance and/or film) is not a strict requirement, it is (however) highly encouraged. Attendance during the entire course, and active participation in the discussions including preparatory reading for each unit are also requirements for successfully completing this course. Because the class takes place bi-weekly, absence can only be accepted during one session (or equivalent amount of time). Students who are not present during the first session without prior(!) communication with the lecturers will be deregistered to make space for students in the waiting list to join the course.

Regular active participation: 10%; excerpts, summaries and regular short exercises 10 %; presentation in class: 25%; Mini-research project: 25 %; final project and accompanying short essay 30 %. The final grade results from the average of the weighted partial performances.

Examination topics

Class itinerary will be made known to the students in the first session

Reading list

Will be communicated to the students in the first session

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Su 03.10.2021 19:49