One, two or more persons under a blanket
(Re: What is Performative Research?)


The predominant format of artistic production today is the project. If we look at a standardized breakdown sheet for project management, a big part of this work would be filed under the category "research". And if we take another look at the reality of art production, we see more and more research that seems based on academic or journalistic methodology; and much too often in a way: highly superficial, streamlined, truncated.

What if we not only break clear the term research from a blueprint of traditional thinking about investigations, but put the act of researching into the focus of artistic practice? What if such a research is not a methodologically and temporarily defined stage of a preformatted project ideology but throws over exactly this hierarchical setting, putting the project guideline sheet in the trashbin?

We won't necessarily need a highly specialized theoretical education: A simple example to illustrate an approach of performative research is the activity by one, two or more persons under a blanket. Performative research is conducted alone or in collaboration, it's fueled by our desires and it is most fun in a playful way, not idiotically following well-established paths and directions. Still, there often is some kind of basic script, a layout, an arrangement, that should not restrict experimentation but rather trigger and encourage it.

Performative research is far from being something new. Obviously, every research is performative - what we try to stress is:

- We are more interested in the process of researching than in what is commonly referred to as results; our research has results, but these are manifest in subjects rather than objects or abstract concepts.
- We think that the conscious inclusion of certain performative arrangements (scripts, settings, ...) can emphasize this process orientation.
- Presentation of results should be aimed at producing new research, both by previous and new researchers.
- Archives are swimming pools and not halls of fame for record holders in freestyle or butterfly and record breakers spoil the pool party anyway.

Performative research does not necessarily involve a performance in the sense of traditional practices in performative or visual arts. On the contrary, we believe such formats might rather limit the actual performative quality. In this respect, it is for now probably preferable that a practice of performative research is publicly mistaken for a preparatorial stage in project-based art than to put it on stage. As shown above, a blanket is not necessarily a limitation, but a potentiality.


PS: But is it political?
I don't think our investigations have to be of a political agenda all the time. What renders it a political activity is the central role of the subject in the process; talking about economy and repression might be a good deal of our activities, but it tends to make me as sad and empty as my bank account. Counterquestion: Is it political to repeat over and over the same keywords, establishing collective repression-identities out of catch-phrases, arranging oneself in the tiny niches of the hyperintegrative culture industry? Performative research is about imagination and creativity beyond the imagination of the last podium in your favourite critical theory hang-out about "creativity in postfordist economy". End of bla-bla. daegseingcny