April 18, 2011

SUSPENSE—International Symposium on Rethinking Research

Antwerp University Association (AUHA)

In the current discourse on research in the arts, artistic research is almost systematically set against the (exact or human) sciences. Research in the arts is generally seen as a deviation from or negation of this scientific, discursive standard, whether desirable or not. This research conference aims to challenge this association by placing non-discursive research centre stage. Different forms of knowing are juxtaposed, not for the sake of hierarchization, but as a means to dynamize, to rethink the notion of research from a different perspective.


In Image et subversion (2005), Stéphane Lojkine (Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille II) discusses “le mystère du sens” (‘the mystery of meaning’) in relation to the work of art, that cannot be captured immediately by a clear definition or meaning: “[L]e sens de l’oeuvre d’art résiste à l’interprétation” (‘the meaning of the artwork resists interpretation’) and distinguishes itself in that sense from a utilitarian text such as a user’s manual. Lojkine coins the term “suspens” (‘suspense’) to designate this delay of meaning, of symbolical deciphering. Opposite suspense—as delayed or ‘suspended’ meaning—stands “sens” (‘sense’), the deciphering knowledge of the rational mind. Suspense relates in that context to Jacques Rancière’s notion of the “image pensive,” an image whose final meaning remains indecisive (Le spectateur émancipé, 2008), or to Jean-Luc Nancy’s conception of the image as the presentation of an absence, a displacement and thus of a lack of sense (Au fond des images, 2003).


Suspense is embedded in an “iconic,” non-discursive logic that is not necessarily limited to the image in a strict sense, but that can more generally point to a different, non-discursive frame of reference. The image forms “un trou dans le discours” (‘a gap in the discourse’) and as such is neither formalized, nor (yet) encapsulated in a determining superstructure. According to Lojkine, the potential for subversion lies in the iconic moment of suspense. In the first shock, the instant of non-understanding, that urges us to look again, to reread, rethink, research, the artwork opens up possibilities for subversion. As Jacques Derrida underlines in Psyché: Inventions de l’autre (1998), ‘invention’ always implies an element of disorder, of illegality, making inroads into the existing discourse, creating alternative passageways.


By linking Lojkine’s notion of suspense to research in the arts, this conference aims to raise the question as to how scientific research relates to artistic research and to what extent artistic research, or research in general, can create a space for subversion, for that which commonly slips through the meshes of a well-defined discursive discourse? Further questions that can be addressed are: How can ‘suspense’ function within an institutional framework? How to engage with the burden of knowing? How to deal with not knowing? How to base research on disorder, on absence or displacement of sense?


MICHAEL SCHWAB (Journal for Artistic Research)
KARL HOLMQVIST (Artist and writer, Berlin & Stockholm)
KATHLEEN COESSENS (VUB & Orpheus Institute)
MIHNEA MIRCAN (Extra City_Kunsthal Antwerpen)
Tim Vets & Eric Thielemans (Champ d’Action)
Sofie van Loo (KUL, Sint Lucas Antwerpen)
Translating practices (Sint-Lucas Gent)
Hephzibah Rendle-Short (Royal College of Art)
Raimi Gbadamosi (Slade School of Fine Art)
Wesley Meuris (Sint Lucas Antwerpen)


Lakenstraat 14
2000 Antwerp


Registration (free): [email protected]
Info & contact: Nico Dockx ([email protected]) & Kim Gorus ([email protected])

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