Getting your hands dirty: fieldwork and dramaturgy in artistic research Prof. Karel Vanhaesebrouck - ULB, RITCS and VUB
Almost all doctoral projects that I mentor as an academic promotor at RITCS relate to social reality in a specific way and look for other, new perspectives to represent that reality, sometimes through documentary strategies but also through fictionalization. Showing reality is not the first goal of these artist-researchers. Their work, that doesn’t need to have its finality in theatre, aims at what Carol Martin calls in her book The Theatre of the Real, “ontological theatre doubt”: consciously clouding the distinction between reality and fiction, like in our daily reality where the distinction is as blurred and our contact with the “real” is always mediated. In my contribution, I would like to focus on this form of research, one that is very specifically related to a specific social reality (the “real” might be a better description) and has its own methodological challenges. Fieldwork takes a central place in these research practices. Therefore, I want to consult the anthropological and the ethnographical research traditions that can provide specific strategies and protocols to artists with an interest in fieldwork and at the same time encourage a thorough reflection about ethical issues. Secondly, I will delve into the practice of the theatre, namely dramaturgy, or more generally: the translation of primary material to a form of interpersonal imagination, while keeping open as many options as possible, without losing sight of the initial urgency. Finally, I want to pay attention to the role of the thesis advisor for artistic doctoral trajectories. Each artistic research requires its own specific method, a different interaction between knowledge and feeling, another sort of intuition.