Arts Research Africa 2022 Conference Proceedings

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    Arts Research Africa 2022 Conference - Introduction
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Doherty, Christo
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    Arts Research Africa 2022 Conference Proceedings - Full
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Doherty, Christo (Editor)
    In the two years which have elapsed between the first and second Arts Research Africa conferences, the recognition of creative practice as a research modality in South Africa has increased in leaps and bounds. The question of what to call this research modality, be it practice-based, or practice-led, or artistic research remains unresolved, but these two conferences have gathered together a stimulating array of approaches to this new mode of research, while raising the banner for ‘artistic research’. This second conference, with its focus on how artistic research has transformed pedagogy as well as art practice in Africa, recognises that many academic practitioners, who have themselves completed advanced degrees with a creative practice component, are now looking to pass these learnings to their students through a transformed pedagogy. The 2022 conference thus provides an opportunity to assess the pattern of this development, still largely limited in Africa to the South African arts and education environment.
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    Cultural Integration for State Identity in Nasarawa State's Choreographic Approach to Nafest "Danceturgey"
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Tume Koshima, Tosin
    This paper discusses the concept of “danceturgy” and its role in the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) in Nigeria. NAFEST aims to promote national unity and identity through the performance of Nigerian cultural heritage. The guidelines for participation in the festival emphasize the reflection of cultural peculiarities and the use of authentic dance stories. The danceturgy at NAFEST involves stage and DVD presentations, with specific criteria for judging. The text highlights the creative process of the Nasarawa State Performing Troupe (NSPT) in developing their dance entry for NAFEST 2009, including the study of the festival syllabus, conception of the story idea, assembling choreographic devices, rehearsals, and the final performance. It is suggested that the NSPT choreographic approach be adopted and modified to suit NAFEST danceturgy.
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    Finding My Voice Through Practice-Based Research: A Critical Look at My Film Shattered Reflection
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Sakota, Tanja
    This paper presents the author’s exploration of memory and autoethnography in her film “Shattered Reflection.” The author, an artistic researcher, delves into her personal experiences, lineage, and ancestral memories to answer research questions related to memory and its depiction in film. The paper reflects on the complexities of the author’s identity and how this influences her approach to research. The paper focuses on using the self as a tool for answering research questions through remembering and autoethnography. The author explores topics such as accessing memory without archives, using film to depict fragmented memories, and uncovering invisible memory through visuals and sound. The paper also mentions the author’s limited budget and her guerrilla filmmaking approach. The film is presented as part of a larger book project and is analyzed in the context of practice-based research.
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    Artistic Research and the City Space: New Orientations and Collaborations
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Winter, Stefan
    This paper explores the evolving relationship between artistic research, architecture, and urban design in the context of shifting paradigms in the understanding of architecture and urban development. It highlights the transition from top-down planning to inclusive bottom-up processes and emphasises the importance of perceiving the city as a habitat rather than just a built environment. The historical precedents of artistic avantgarde movements, such as dérive and psychogeography, are examined, and their limitations in the contemporary context are discussed. The potential of artistic research to contribute to sustainability in ecological, economic, and societal dimensions is explored through various examples. Overall, the paper argues for the transformative power of artistic research in shaping future city spaces.
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    Passing Through Fragmented Scribbles: Moving Towards Movement, Dance and Choreography Grounded in the Embodied Ecosomatic Paradigm
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Ngwenya, Smangaliso
    This paper explores the artistic creation and embodied practiceled research in the context of creating an ensemble screendance titled “Fragmented Scribbles.” The work explores the embodied scribbles of knowledge that exist within conversations among intellectual, emotional, physical, social, aesthetic, creative, and spiritual realms. The research prioritizes the whole being as a site of artistic exploration, using Passing Through as a pedagogical method. The ecological perception and ecosomatic paradigm are employed to cultivate mindfulness, perceive relationships, develop conceptual flexibility, re-perceive depth, and intentionally use the imagination. The study also examines the unique narratives and associations between internal and physical ecologies of the performers and their sites of performance.
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    Exploring the Transformative Potential of Practice-based Design Research (PBDR) Methods in Architectural Design Pedagogy
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Felix, Sandra
    This paper discusses the application of practice-based design research (PbDR) methods in transforming the design practice of architecture students. It explores how reflection and diffraction, two PbDR methods, can be used to shape students’ design practice and challenge institutional biases. The author shares the experience of implementing these methods in a third-year architecture design studio at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Changes were made to the curriculum, including the introduction of reflection and the use of diffractive methods, to foster personal and institutional transformation. The paper highlights the importance of collaborative dialogue, social reflection, and engaged pedagogy in this transformative process.
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    "I am Coloured": The Memoir as a Decolonial Methodology
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Wentworth, Raezeen
    This paper explores the shift from a “definitive” to a “descriptive” approach in the context of the coloured identity narrative. It reflects on the challenges of critiquing and redefining coloured culture and identity while still using language that reinforces existing tropes. The author argues for a move towards the descriptive, which allows for a decolonial perspective and selfarticulation. The text discusses the use of autoethnography and the creation of a production called (Un)becoming, where personal narratives were explored. It also suggests that published memoirs, such as Sorry, Not Sorry, Because I Couldn’t Kill You, and Ougat, contribute to disrupting normative cultural constraints and offer a decolonizing perspective.
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    Priority Mail Process Lab: An Experiment in Migrant Dramaturgy
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Kabwe, B. Mwenya
    This abstract reflects on the dramaturgy of the Priority Mail Process Lab, a month-long virtual residency program called into existence during the Covid-19 pandemic. The lab aimed to facilitate an exchange of objects, ideas, and insights between Francophone and Anglophone African artists. The paper explores the artistic research practice behind the lab, focusing on the themes of migration, mobility, and the role of African women. It discusses the curatorial intentions of prioritizing process over production, the importance of care, and the political implications of rest and emancipation. The paper also delves into the concept of migrant dramaturgy and the experiences of Black migrant cultural production.
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    "Ghostly Imprints": Revisiting the Tradition of the Death Mask in Digital Clay
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Stewart, Michelle
    This paper explores the representation of the dead through a creative project that involves 3D digital sculptures inspired by forensic facial photographs of unclaimed deceased in government morgues as well as posthumous photographs of the author’s mother-in-law. The project draws on the tradition of death masks and aims to create final portraits that commemorate the individuals and acknowledge the transcendental aspects of death masks. The author’s work is situated within the discourse of art theory and history, rather than forensic art, and emphasises the artistic and conceptual nature of the sculptures. The project is associated with the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Missing and Deceased Migrant Project and explores the humanitarian implications of migrant deaths in South Africa. The paper also delves into the history and evolution of death masks in Western culture, highlighting their significance as representations of true faces and their use in phrenology.
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    Re-Imagining the Role of Female Players in the Making and Restoring of the UHADI Musical Bow
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Pepu, Lindelwa
    This paper, written from an African feminist perspective, focuses on the uhadi musical bow, a historical instrument found in museums, particularly in Museum Africa in Johannesburg. The mislabelling and lack of contextual information about the uhadi bow in the museum collection hinder the understanding of its origin and the recognition of its makers. The research highlights the role of women as the likely original makers and performers of the uhadi bow. It explores the unique features, construction, and playing techniques of the instrument. The study also profiles female uhadi players, emphasising their contribution to reviving and preserving the instrument’s cultural significance.
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    The Scientific Lab as Studio/The Studio as Scientific Lab: Exploring Practice-Led Microbial Bioart in a Decolonial Context
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Farber, Leora
    This paper discusses the field of bioart, which explores the intersection of art and biotechnology. It raises questions about life, bioethics, and environmental interactions. The author’s praxis involves hands-on experimentation with living and nonliving materials in scientific labs, resulting in artistic outcomes. The concept of “intra-action” is explored, emphasising a reciprocal relationship between the artist and the material. The paper highlights the increasing collaboration between artists and scientists, leading to the establishment of bioart labs and art-science programs. The author’s own bioart praxis involves working with bacteria and yeast to create biofibers resembling human skin, which are then used to produce casts referencing colonial histories. The challenges and experimental nature of working with living materials are also discussed.
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    Articulating a Movement Pedagogy in Retrograde: Mapping an Embodied Research Process
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Johnstone, Kristina
    This paper discusses an artistic research project that challenges representationalism in South African contemporary dance. The author argues against the use of discursive methodologies that reinforce colonial scripts and instead proposes an alternative approach based on embodied practices. The paper explores the concept of choreography as embodied research and its potential to align with a decolonial praxis. The research project involves tracing embodied practices and creating a digital cartography to capture and explore these practices. The author also discusses the emergence of a movement pedagogy that unfolds in retrograde and disrupts conventional understandings of time and pedagogical continuity.
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    Epistemic Disobedience: Institution-Building as Artistic Practice
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Gurney, Kim
    This paper posits the Nafasi Art Space in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as a paradigmatic example of independent art spaces in Africa. These spaces, known as offspaces, challenge the status quo by creating divergent infrastructures through creative refusals and re-imaginations. The author conducted a prior study called Platform/Plotform, which identified key working principles of offspaces, such as horizontality, performativity, elasticity, convergence, and second chance. The study visited five African cities to examine the correlations between artistic strategies and urban life. The paper focuses on the Nafasi Academy for Contemporary Art, Expression, and Inclusion, launched in 2020, and explores its curriculum and pedagogical domains that may, like the institution itself, build cultural infrastructures while functioning like a work of art.
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    A Musical History Through Vocal Expressions at the Abbey Cindi Cosmology Concert
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Moshugi, Kgomotso
    This paper reports on a research project that culminated in a concert honoring South African musician and activist Bra Abbey Cindi. The project involved reissuing Cindi’s album, forming a band of young musicians to perform his music, and creating a vocal group called No Limits to reinterpret Cindi’s earlier South African choral works. The paper proposes the use of music to explore the past, present, and future, linking generations and addressing social issues. It discusses specific compositions, their lyrical and musical merits, and the process of arranging them for vocal performance. The paper also highlights the role of community engagement and the value of reimagining historical musical works.
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    Uncovering the History of the Nazi Holocaust in Senegal Through Artistic and Historical Research
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Turpin, Joe
    This paper describes the author’s residency in Dakar, Senegal, where he created artworks in response to the history of anti-Semitic laws and the Sébikhotane concentration camp, established by the Vichy French Colonial Regime in West Africa. The artworks aim to inform audiences about this littleknown history and use symbolism that Senegalese people can relate to. The paper discusses the research conducted, the positive reception of the artworks, and the author’s role as an artist, researcher, and performer. The paper also provides descriptions and explanations of some of the artworks created during the residency.
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    Archiving as Artistic Practice
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Batzofin, Jayne
    This paper looks at the development of an online showcase repository for the ReTAGS (Reimagining Tragedy from Africa and the Global South) practice-as-research artistic productions, Antigone (not quite/quiet) and iKrele leChiza, and the methodology behind documenting and digitally archiving their processes. The paper reflects on the author’s involvement as the digital archivist for the ReTAGS research and the choices made and implemented on the online showcase repository. It considers the strengths and challenges of these archival choices and explores the possibilities of understanding the archive as a means of artistic engagement in its own right.
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    A Return to Practices and Pedagogies: Artistic Research as Untethering and Foraging
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Barry, Hedwig; Andrew, David
    This paper reflects on the intertwining of artistic research and pedagogies within the context of a collaborative project conducted at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. The authors explore the concepts of proximities, grids and flows, confrontations, and time as entry points into the space of artistic research. They emphasize the importance of untethering and foraging, challenging established boundaries and embracing discomfort as a catalyst for creative growth. The paper also highlights the significance of proximities and the relational aspect of artistic research, inviting a communal and interdisciplinary approach. The authors reflect on their experiences during the pandemic and the evolving nature of teaching and learning in relation to time.
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    Creative Curatorial Practice as a Means of Reorientating Display Tropes in Museums of Natural History
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Langerman, Fritha
    This paper provides a critical analysis of natural history museums and their display practices. It explores the contradictions inherent in the concept of “natural history” and the dominance over nature it implies. The paper argues that museums still promote authoritative classification and knowledge systems that reinforce hierarchical structures and colonial ideologies. The author, an artist-curator and printmaker, shares her experiences with three exhibitions that challenge traditional display methods. By disrupting linear progression, introducing complex interconnections, and emphasizing sensory experiences, the exhibitions aim to create alternative models of display that reflect the entangled and web-like nature of speciation. The goal is to move beyond colonial narratives and imagine new ways of representing and understanding the natural world within museum spaces.
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    Art in Action Research (AIAR): Integrating Tacit Knowledge Into Research
    (Arts Research Africa, 2022-09-16) Lammli, Dominique
    This paper introduces the concept of Art in Action Research (AiAR) as an alternative paradigm for art practitioners working in sociocultural settings. AiAR aims to accommodate diverse notions of art, theories, and knowledge bases, integrating tacit knowledge into research frameworks. The paradigm is grounded in the issues emerging from the work environment, focusing on real-life challenges to co-create a liveable future. The paper addresses the need for methodological guides in researching art practitioner perspectives and discusses the concepts of knowledge and tacit knowledge. It explores the problem of non-groundedness in art practitioner research and highlights the global turn and the need for retooling disciplinary perspectives. In sum, the paper argues that AiAR provides an alternative paradigm for methodology crafting that considers the global turn and acknowledges diverse notions of art and knowledge bases.