Call for Submissions for a special issue of Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal Encountering Artistic Research Practices: Analyzing their Critical Social Potentialities


Call for submissions for a special issue of

Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal

Encountering Artistic Research Practices: Analyzing their Critical Social Potentialities

(Anticipated publication date February, 2020)

Guest Editors: Karin Hannes, Social Research Methodology Group, KU Leuven, Belgium & Rudi Laermans, Theory, Culture and Religion Research Group, KU Leuven, Belgium

An abundance of artistically inspired research practices use aesthetics to affect social dynamics. Many of them are currently pushed forward by scholars who combine an artistic and an academic background. The idea that art can be used as a way to understand human action and experience contributed to the further development of socially engaged artistic research practices (Wang, Coemans, Siegesmund & Hannes, 2017; Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2017). The latter emphasize participation, dialogue, co-action and the occurrence of immersive experiences as a key element of the research process (Kester, 2011). Researchers and artists involved in these practices tend to use art as a vehicle to engage with the texture of social life, eventually disrupting the seemingly natural flow of the social in order to stimulate reflection and invite action for change (Bax, Gielen & Ieven, 2016; Meier & Frers, 2016). This may be done within public space in the broad sense or in the context of the more specific frameworks opened up by theatre, dance or music performances.

For this special issue we invite contributions that investigate actual modes of social encountering through art and design in the public domain and how such practices create social value. We assume that many of these practices are not intrinsically critical but may result, often unintentionally, in new forms of “instrumentalization” and “commodification” (Cameron & Coaffee, 2005).  We are therefore particularly interested in examples of artistic practices creating encounters between people and the public domain that have a clear critical edge and enhance the common good; have been (or have become over time) repurposed to serve other-than-social goals; or are rather ambiguous. This includes a focus on the underlying dynamics through which artistic practices either re-enforce or re-define general notions of “differing” and how the corresponding ideas either challenge existing societal power mechanisms or alternatively keep them into place (Beyes & Steyvaert, 2011; McDowell, 2018).

Specific lines of interest for this call include:

  • non-intentional “nomadic” encounters in public space as addressed by practices ranging from public art to creative activism (Braidotti, 2011)
  • community framed encounters as addressed by community art projects (Jackson, 2011)
  • audience based encounters resting on a shared time and physical attention as addressed by live and performing arts (Malzacher, 2015).

Papers should preferably be situated on the crossroad between theory and method. On a theoretical level we invite contributions furthering our understanding of the impact of the blurred lines between art, social life and scholarship as illustrated by socially engaged artistic research practice. Critical perspectives that challenge our current understanding of what art can or is supposed to achieve in social terms will also be considered. We particularly encourage contributions that question the idea that artistic practices should necessarily be perceived as a means to a social end. Empirical research papers and case studies are warmly welcomed on the condition that they not only illustrate the impact of the use of art in widening audience participation or transforming participants and communities, but are also situated in relation to changing economic, cultural, educational, social and/or political contexts.

We invite contributions (broadly defined as manuscripts, literary, visual, audio or performances-based artworks or traces of them, and other presentations) for the Theoretical Musings and In Action sections of Art/Research International. Submissions are due by May 15, 2019. Inquiries should be directed to Karin Hannes at Please review the Art/Research International submission guidelines and download the journal's formatting guide before making your submission. These can be found on the journal website at:

Please clearly indicate on your title page that you are directing your submission to this special issue.

Guest Editor biographies:

Karin Hannes, KU Leuven

Qualitative inquiry team from the Social Research Methods research unit, Centre for Sociological Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven

The team specializes in the development and testing of innovative methods and artistically inspired analytical approaches, both on the primary research level and the meta-synthesis level. Research pays attention to the potential of arts-based, visual and multisensory approaches in the context of socially engaged research practices, with a particular focus on community based and participatory research practices. On the meta-level the team advances the debates on the use of quality and reporting criteria in the broad field of qualitative inquiry, including arts-based methods traditions.  The team also contributes to the further development of the evidence base in the domain of social and public health sciences, through the production of qualitative and mixed-method systematic reviews of the literature. 

Rudi Laermans, KU Leuven

Theory, Culture & Religion research unit, Centre for Sociological Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven.

The research group studies cultural change in fields like religion, artistic production, politics or consumption to give flesh and bones to container notions like individualization or post modernization. Within the arts, a main research focus is processes of co-creation and artistic collaboration in the performing arts against the background of the neoliberal regime of flexible artistic accumulation. Attention is therefore also given to artists' situations of socio-economic precarity and how it is related to a logic of self-precarization due to a more general valuation of self-expression. Moreover, the interest in direct artistic co-production is combined with a focus on critical practices of “communing” or sharing materials, procedures ... on the one hand, and on logics of social value production through participatory modes of addressing audiences on the other. In dealing with these topics, qualitative methods are used in combination with a broad theoretical angle transcending the traditional divide between the humanities and the social sciences.

The interactions between artistic practice and qualitative inquiry are of particular importance to both groups.



Bax, S., Gielen, P. & Ieven, B. (Eds.) (2016). Interrupting the city: Artistic constitutions of the public sphere. Amsterdam, NL: Valiz.

Beyes, T., & Steyaert, C. (2011). The ontological politics of artistic interventions: Implications for performing action research. Action Research, 9(1), 100-115.

Braidotti, R. (2011). Nomadic theory: The portable Rosi Braidotti. New York: Columbia University Press.

Cahnmann-Taylor, M., & Siegesmund, R. (Eds.). (2017). Arts-based research in education: Foundations for practice. New York: Routledge.

Cameron, S., & Coaffee, J. (2005). Art, gentrification and regeneration–from artist as pioneer to public arts. International Journal of Housing Policy, 5(1), 39-58.

Jackson, S. (2011). Social works: Performing art, supporting publics. New York: Routledge.

Kester, G.H. (2011). The one and the many: Contemporary collaborative art in a global context. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Malzacher, F. (2015), Not just a mirror. Looking for the political theatre of today. Berlin, DE: Alexander Verlag.

McDowell, L. (2018). Gender, identity and place: Understanding feminist geographies. New Jersey, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Meier, L., & Frers, L. (2016). Encountering urban places–Visual and material performances in the city. In L. Meier & L. Frers (Eds.), Encountering urban places: Visual and Material performances in the city (pp. 17-24). New York: Routledge.

Wang, Q., Coemans, S., Siegesmund, R., & Hannes, K. (2017). Arts-based methods in socially engaged research practice: A classification framework. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 2(2), 5-39.