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Master Artistic Research

Sharelly Emanuelson, Master Artistic Research 2014, Winner Master Artistic Research Department Award

Image: Graduation project 'Doh mix meh up: We always negotiatin' | Sharelly Emanuelson, Master Artistic Research 2014, Winner Master Artistic Research Department Award

The Master Artistic Research (MAR) is a two-year interdisciplinary Master Trajectory for Research in the Arts, and is aimed at students working in the field of visual art and/or music. The programme is a collaboration between the Royal Academy of Art and the Royal Conservatory, both in The Hague.

It was established at the Royal Academy (KABK) in 2009. Around the same time, the PhDarts, the first PhD in Fine Art in the Netherlands, came into being, as a collaboration between the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) and Leiden University. Both programmes play an important role in the developing conversation around artistic practice as research. The articulation of ‘artistic research’ as a demarcated activity has emerged out of an enquiry into what sort of knowledge art can be said to contain, or embody, and how this knowledge relates to more traditionally academic knowledge. Artistic research can be understood as making space for research in the arts by artists (as opposed to research about the arts by non-artists). Artistic research embraces the confusion of experience and the complex woven nature of our interactions with this world, and looks for ways to reveal the languages, concepts, and material responses we bring to that world-meeting in artistic and creative ways. Visual artists and musicians have always researched, without it being named as such, but the uniqueness of artistic research lies in its merged production of these materials within what could be understood as a visual, discursive, and social text or fabric - the many stranded accumulation and production of knowledge within artistic research practices blurs both academic and artistic boundaries.

Students of the MAR are specifically taught a heightened self-reflexivity in relation to their artistic practice. Emphasis is placed on extending students’ research skills, including the ability to gather relevant material, to undertake close reading, listening, and looking, and to locate and understand connections within a matrix of research material. Reflective emphasis is also placed on how the materials of art practice transmit their meanings. The 'materializing practices' of creative activity are necessarily unpredictable, and in engagement with any artistic object or moment, semiotics, sensation, and affect are experienced together, by an embodied spectator. Finding ways to conceptualize these processes in relation to their own creative practice is an important part of the curriculum of the programme.

Master Artistic Research students carry out the following activities to fulfill their study point requirements for graduation:

  • Attend regular individual tutorials and group classes with practice, theory, and writing tutors.
  • Participate in course research groups with their peers. 
  • Regularly present new works to tutors and fellow students to demonstrate their artistic evolution and the relationship between his/her research processes and artistic work. 
  • Complete reflection papers in year 1 and an Artistic Research Statement paper in year 2.
  • Actively participate in guest workshops and theoretical seminars, and attend guest lectures. 
  • Periodically exhibit or perform new work in MAR exhibitions and events and actively contribute to the organization and putting together of these events.

General learning objectives:

  • The Master Artistic Research teaches students to critically reflect upon and analyze their artistic practice, in order to develop their artistic outputs to a level suitable for autonomous professional practice in the fields of music and/or visual art.
  • Students are led to explore an expanded field of practice, extending into new areas and further developing aspects of their practice, which may have received limited support due to the restrictions of their disciplinary backgrounds. • Students learn to position their practices within wider debates in their respective fields, and in relation to wider social and academic discourses.
  • Students are taught how to present their artistic work within the professional context through the putting together of exhibitions and events, with critical reflection and input from tutors and professionals in their field.
  • The Master Artistic Research teaches students discursive written and oral means to communicate their practice and disseminate their research to audiences within and outside of their field.

The Musical Dimension of the course:

Our course offers a research environment for expanded practice. It enables visual artists and musicians to explore the possibilities that come with engagement in each other’s fields. Some of our students’ practices already operate on the borderline between music and art. For these students it offers a chance for a deeper dialogue, for critical reflection on the significance of this position, and for a greater level of expertise in a field that has not formed their primary working background. Our guest programme includes practitioners working on this borderline, who share their expertise and insight into this way of working and the position it entails professionally with the students.

The musical dimension of the course can allow further development of areas of art practice related to sound – such as the development of sound for installation art works, video, and film work. Conceptions of performance in relation to both music and visual art can be explored in new ways, including the creative potential of instruments and the voice, and the ideas and methodologies related to musical composition and performance. Students can participate in selected courses at the Conservatorium to increase their knowledge about specific areas.


Weronika Zielinska (coordinator)

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