The Importance of Stupidity: What is an artistic research?

An open conversation at the Artport Kitchenette

Participants: artist Boris Oicherman, scientist Prof. David Avnir and designer Ido Bruno.

Invoking multiple histories of conversation, which have taken place around kitchen tables the world over, the residents at Artport invite you to join us for an evening of drinks, soup and focused discussion about the meaning of an experiment as an artwork.

The idea of “research” as artistic practice is not new, but recently it seems to undergo a revival: “PhD by practice” programs in art academies proliferate, interdisciplinary research projects are encouraged by funding organisations, the description of artistic process as a knowledge-production appears in writings, words such as “knowledge” and “experiment” appear more in the artistic jargon. And yet, when applied to arts, the term “research” is extremely elusive and ambiguous, and the reactions of artists to it can be polar – from complete unacceptance, to declaring it to be an essential base of any meaningful practice.

Martin A. Schwartz, in the essay ( from which this Kitchenette borrows its title, talks about the “emotional need to discover” as the driving force of scientific practice. Is it essentially different from the one that drives artists in their practice? What would it mean for an artist to be “productively ignorant”? What kind of knowledge can be generated in arts – and what do we mean by knowledge in arts at all? How do we pose a question in art, or even – do we pose questions in art that worth answering? Or even more to the point – can we pose problems in art and aim to solve them? Do the development of practical academic research art programs on the one hand, and social artistic practices on the other, mean that arts undergo the transformation from being content-oriented to problem-oriented? To what extent the art institutions – galleries, funding bodies, museums, academies – are capable of accommodating open-ended artistic research projects aimed at producing “knowledge” and not “art pieces”?

In this Kitchenette we are hoping to open a discussion about the meaning and implications of artistic research. The topic has numerous academic and philosophical implication, but here we would like to focus on the artistic practice: what does it mean for an artist to do a research?

The conversation will be initiated by brief talks of three speakers – the scientist Prof. David Avnir; the designer Ido Bruno, and the artist Boris Oicherman, who will introduce stories that illustrate the potential of research in their spheres of activity, and the importance of “stupidity” and “productive ignorance” in it. We invite anyone interested to take part.

19:00: “Turn Aside” – a work in progress: a new sound installation by Boris Oicherman, Eli Nelken and David Avnir.

19:30: “The Great Learning – Paragraph 7” by Cornelius Cardew is a vocal composition, a musical-acoustical experiment for a choir and the listeners. The Modern Ensemble of the department of new music of Musrara and Dan Weinstein will perform this canonical piece in the Artport gallery space together with the sound installation “Turn Aside”, and will call the listeners to join in to create a singular musical piece.

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  • Date

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

  • Time


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