From 7 to 9 April 2021, the mdw will be hosting the 12th International Conference on Artistic Research of the Society for Artistic Research (SAR) in cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the University of Applied Arts Vienna. This extraordinary and intense collaboration between Vienna’s three arts universities serves to centre the project of strengthening and developing the important, dynamic field of artistic research on an international level and offers conference participants the opportunity to take in current artistic research discourses and findings in an intense and bundled fashion as well as participate in these discourses themselves.

For the first time ever, the SAR Conference will be taking place in the digital realm. Among other things, this entails an opportunity to facilitate global participation in the conference—thereby involving new geographic regions that might be at a disadvantage due to insufficient resources (such as travel budgets) if the event were held in its normal format. The 2021 SAR Conference will also, not unimportantly, shine a spotlight on Vienna as a place with numerous initiatives for the strengthening of artistic research in all disciplines of the arts. For the mdw, this represents an opportunity to lend international visibility to its recent progress—in the form of its artistic doctoral programme and its newly established Artistic Research Center (ARC)—and to network these new elements.

The conference will include presentation of artistic research-based contributions from around the world on their own digital platform. Emma Cocker (associate professor, fine art, Nottingham Trent University), Liza Lim (professor of composition, Sculthorpe Chair of Australian Music, Sydney Conservatorium of Music), and Jyoti Mistry (professor of film at the University of Gothenburg) have agreed to deliver this conference’s three keynotes. Furthermore, an international call that netted 145 submissions has led to the selection of more than 40 contributions representing the most varied disciplines and research approaches by a joint conference committee (Anna Artaker, Alexander Damianisch, Michaela Glanz, Johan A. Haarberg, Therese Kaufmann, Johannes Kretz, Deniz Peters, Barbara Putz-Plecko, Gabriele Schmid) drawn from all cooperating partners, resulting in a diverse panorama of current artistic research. This collaborative project between all three participating Viennese arts universities, the first-ever project between the three to be conducted at this level of intensity, also provides and opens up important impulses and perspectives for future such efforts.

The conference contributions are thematically oriented toward three attractors: care, dare, and share. They will show works, processes, methods, discoveries, knowledge interventions, findings, forms of understanding, and to engage in exchange—in actions and words, in complex and simple, conventional and unconventional, robust and fragile ways. The submitting artist researchers were invited to question normativity, involve the most varied formats of knowledge, and take up positions on social and societal issues, responsibility to society, geographic diversity, the social situation of artists, possible conflicts between artistic freedom and research ethics, questions regarding access to artistic research, and much more.

The contributions to this conference will be either pre-produced or streamed live on the conference platform (, where they can be experienced audio-visually and reflected upon as part of an international discourse in videoconferences that will include abundant time for discussion and the exchange of ideas. The object here is also to illuminate how the various contributions relate to the thematic attractors (care, dare, share), portray the relationships between artistic practice and reflective exploration, and question the social relevance of artistic research and the diverse methods of research and presentation being employed. All this will furthermore serve to make visible how artistic decisions, methods, turning points, ethical questions, and challenges of collaboration, dissemination, and documentation are dealt with in the respective projects. Last but not least, the conference platform will also provide ample opportunity for the informal and individual exchange of ideas between the conference participants as well as for networking.

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