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Between being and imagining: Towards a methodology for artistic research

Between being and imagining: towards a methodology for artistic research is the name of a four-year research project (2013-2017) led by dramaturg, circus maker and critic Bauke Lievens at School of Arts KASK/Conservatorium (Ghent, BE). In this project Bauke Lievens researched a part of contemporary European circus creation. She did this from the position of the dramaturg, critic, circus-maker and spectator. She tried, for instance, to introduce circus into conversations and places where it is usually not mentioned or found. Conversely, she experimented with concepts taken from related performing arts in her (circus-)dramaturgical practice. She expressed criticism of the circus (or at least certain aspects of it), received criticism for her critique, and entered into dialogue with a lot of people from the circus world. As a (circus-)maker, she created two performances together with circus artist Alexander Vantournhout, called ANECKXANDER (2015) and Raphaël (2017).

The goal of the research project was not so much to create one binding truth about what artistic research in contemporary circus is. Rather, it was to work with different discursive and artistic forms of dialogue. As such, the research project leaves a number of traces: a booklet entitled Is there a way out of here?, two Open Letters to the Circus, two performances that test the boundaries of circus as an artistic language, genre and tradition, a few articles in magazines, this website with letters and video material of collective conversations, and several dramaturgical collaborations with different circus companies. In no way do all these conversations, images and performances form a finished entity. They are starting points and openings for dialogue. Material for further conversation. What the many research strategies or ‘views’ do have in common is a constant negotiation of distance or closeness to the circus. At the heart of this dialogue is the notion that the act of looking at something, and the nature of the something being looked at, interact to change both the viewer and the thing itself. Because that’s how things go in a good conversation: together we think differently than we would if alone.

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