The University of the Arts (Royal Academy of Art and Royal Conservatoire) holds artistic research in high esteem. There is a, for the Netherlands, unique collaboration between the University of the Arts and Leiden University in the form of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (see PhDArts). On a MA-level the University of the Arts offers the research trajectory for artistic research, in which the art academy and the conservatoire collaborate. Two of the University’s lectorates are dedicated to artistic research: the lectorate of Henk Borgdorff (Royal Conservatoire) and the lectorate of Janneke Wesseling (Royal Academy of Art).
In artistic research, or practice-based research, practical action (the making) and theoretical reflection (the thinking) go hand in hand. In this type of research the one cannot exist without the other, which resembles artistic practice where making and thinking are similarly inextricably connected. This is what distinguishes artistic research with research about the arts (art history, music, theater and film studies, cultural studies, performance studies).
Research has always been a part of artists’ and designers’ practices, but in the past few decades the research aspect of art and design has become increasingly important. Contemporary artists and designers frequently position themselves as researchers, both in the social sphere as in the field of the arts. In some cases the research has become the work: matter and medium function in these cases as instruments for the research or ‘thinking process’.
At the Royal Academy of Art, artistic research plays a central role. This means that much attention is paid to the role of thinking in the creative process, to the student’s reflection on his/her own actions and to the development of a (theoretical) positioning of the student’s work in the cultural and social field. The educational system is aimed at equipping the student with an investigative attitude.