The European Forum for Advanced Practices (EFAP), an informal forum of artists, theorists, philosophers, educators, performers, curators, musicians, urbanists, anthropologists and other cultural actors across Europe and beyond, has assembled to propose new ways of recognizing the values of contemporary cultural practices. One of the main goals of EFAP is to initiate the drafting process of a 'White Paper on Advanced Practices' which will take the form of a preliminary communication across actors, across sectors and across disciplines. We hope that this process will become an expanded conversation across the fields that have been at the forefront of significant shifts in what is recognized as research and of its place within the trajectory of practice. There is an investment here in new ways of multiplying and proliferating how practices instantiate forms of research with open sources, open access and open ends -- as opposed to new forms of excellence. The EFAP 'White Paper on Advanced Practices' will be an intentional address to peers and future researchers, one that recognizes the immense amounts of work taking place across the globe.
This initiative has been propelled by several challenges.
A first challenge is a general recognition that the current paradigm in which we work is in fact a tragic one where, in Europe and elsewhere, within educational and cultural institutions are currently subject to previously unimaginable levels of evaluation, monitoring, homogenization and financializing. Such immediate conditions negate hard-fought battles within cultural practice and research concerning race and migration, gender and sexuality, impoverishment and welfare, the need to decolonize knowledge and the need to include social justice within questions of epistemology. Subsequently the relation between practices, terms and institutions is amiss, does not reflect the burdens of responsibility under which they operate, does not recognize the exceptional strides they have made and does nothing to actually advance the framework beyond display and certification.
A second challenge is to try and understand how practices have expanded beyond their original designation to become a forceful arena of textures, references and modalities that advance way beyond what may conventionally be expected of them. By knitting together a genealogy of the encounters between practices we hope to focus not so much on new forms as on new modes of coming together. This in recognition that a politics of coalitionality and mutuality is as important in the arena of knowledge production as it is in political struggles.
A third challenge is that artistic and cultural practices are so often called on to ‘represent’ social struggles or to bridge between arenas of hardship and privilege. Part of the challenge is how to think practices differently both substantively as knowledge and in their application as propositional forms. Not simply as artistic practices but also social, organizational, investigative and consciousness-raising forms of practice that redefine research. That are alert to opaque concerns, abstract specific instances and point to unimaginable possibilities; possibilities invite unexpected conjunctions between conditions, knowledges and affects and invent new forms of intervening beyond commentary.
A fourth and final challenge: we must face the concern that value is in urgent need of reconfiguration within our world of practices. The forms of value that have dominated either as market worth or as satisfying antiquated notions of disciplinary knowledge that are evaluable in advance – have served us badly and limited the horizons to which we can aspire.
On The European Forum for Advanced Practices
The European Forum for Advanced Practices is an initiative driven by the wish to expand the breadth and depth of criteria and values that as creative researchers we have at our disposal. It is equally aimed at informing the politics of knowledge that underwrite selection, promotion, evaluation and funding of such practices. The researchers behind The EFAP White Paper on Advanced Practiceswill collectively identify an urgent need for new and plural ways of working to eradicate the blockages that lie in the way of advancing practices.
The European Forum for Advanced Practices is self-organized and made up of those who have for quite some time been working with complex research models within educational and cultural programs, inside of and outside of institutions. It builds on the work of individuals and of many academic departments, art academies, research oriented cultural institutions and collectives and other self-organized groups, who have constituted the educational field around emergent new practices and given them visibility. The European Forum for Advanced Practicesis currently developing a platform that will allow this paper to function as an invitation to coalition in itself, drawing many others into this discussion.
Building on ongoing discussions of artistic research, on their consequent expansion as ‘practice based research’ and recognizing what work is out there, we propose to go a step further in order to include practices that act as unexpected convergences of many forms of knowledge. These practices cannot be recognized under the name of artist, collective, school, genre or mode of exposure. Rather they are bodies of work, that consciously or unconsciously, are drawn together in movement, in their unpredictable engagement with urgencies and exigent issues. How we can chart such relations and what permission we might gain from the relations they form, is one of the drives of The EFAP White Paper on Advanced Practices.
The EFAP White Paper on Advanced Practices will include a set of initial reflections, definitions, characteristics, principles and open questions associated with Advanced Practices. In offering a characterization of Advanced Practices, we assert, with many others before us, that practice is a mode of research and therefore Advanced Practicesshould attract evolving definitions rather than estimation.
On The Concept of Advanced Practices
We have developed the term Advanced Practice as it performs a conjunction of values from traditional research with values from lived experience and the challenges of contemporary conditions. It is distinguished from the established academic field of Advanced Studies through questioning ideas of mastery, progressive knowledge accumulation and global research acquisition. Instead Advanced Practices favour the assertion that knowledge is not held in one place or by one group of people but is instead collaborative, granular. Thus multiple Advanced Practices are forms of embodied research, lived experience informed by theoretical and social knowledge, challenged by contesting speeds, defying cohesions and made by producers from different disciplines, locations, accesses and languages.
Participants in the field perceive of themselves as those who are encountering advanced knowledges and collectively experiencing them differently. Such different experiences recognize that the current contestations of knowledge between critical theory, computational and algorithmic logics, the centrality of affect and the preoccupation with neo-materialism - all operating within ever more extreme social, economic and environmental conditions – require interstitial narratives. When the need is for global epistemologies and planetary knowledges, for reopening surreptitious histories, when the urgencies are blockages of movement for people and of access to rights, of globally financialized warfare, the collapse of welfare infrastructures and the financializing of education – then the narratives of their knowledge must mirror the fractured multi-positionality of the conditions themselves, must speak through them rather than about them.
The term Advanced Practices is established as a category to signal the sea change in research taking up modes of doing and grounding them in material and theoretical knowledges and in links to social worlds. EFAP’s urgency lies in the great proliferation of practice driven research taking place across many fields, not yet sustained by an understanding of it potentials across institutions, funding agencies and points of dissemination. In claiming Advanced Practices we acknowledge many advancements that have already taken place and that continues to propel us as we encounter advanced knowledges, forms of propulsion that do not illustrate or uncover but speculate, propose and prompt. Advanced Practices are forms of multi-positional knowledge, that move beyond accumulated intelligences to challenge propositions through combined strategies of the theoretical and the practice driven. Practices are here understood as the protocols of many fields that push their central proposition to interactive states. These practices offer the possibility of examining issues from multiple, oblique vantage points and articulating these in a range of languages that are aesthetic, administrative, scholarly and performative. Thus, Advanced Practice insists on the importance of developing the multiple perspectives of contemporary diasporic, migratory societies, to see ‘value’ as established contextually and to operate collectively in formulating alternative models of research evaluation that understand value as produced in context.
On The Principles of Advanced Practices
Such contingency and collectivity in the field of knowledge means that Advanced Practices assume multiple audiences and an ease of movement between different institutions. Rather than borrow protocols and knowledges across disciplines, Advanced Practices offer immersive forms in which new methodologies are forged out of combining the contextual and the performed with imagined future states. EFAP recognizes that rage, hardship and the pursuit of social justice propel research just as much as curiosity, criticality and the ambition to solve problems. It insists on the importance and the validity of such entry points as pathways and propellants into forms of knowledge.
EFAP proposes the following seven principles as underlying Advanced Practices:
1. Advanced Practices insist on a democratization of knowledge, with more persons having access to it and being recognized as knowledge producers.
2. Advanced Practices propagate new, propositional realities not epistemologically but through their collective and multi-dimensional enactment.
3. Advanced Practices espouse complexity which is inclusive and which does not allow for an external viewing position or a performance of a seeming objectivity.
4. Advanced Practices value assemblages of knowing via interstitial concepts such as the ‘spatial’, ‘sonic’, ‘curatorial’, ‘mineral’, ‘environmental’, ‘algorithmic’, ‘choreographic’, etc.’
5. Advanced Practices have the ability to make practice societal, using creativity to make visible the frictions, tensions, violences and contestations inherent in forms of social and political life and conditions.
6. Advanced Practices operate propositionally, not reporting on but suggesting alternate scenarios and discernments.
7. Advanced Practices loosen the disciplinary grip on knowledge, pursue non-hierarchical knowledge formations and the fusion of scholarly, infrastructural and creative languages.
On The Performativity of Advanced Practices
Following these seven underlying principles, the performativity of Advanced Practicescan be described as follows:
1. Advanced Practices shift paradigms.Taking the form of tectonics, paradigm shifts are a process of working with a problematic without the framework of assumptions or the drive of a goal. Such shifts continually redefine how things are measured and always operate as temporally specific mechanisms. Paradigm shifts cannot be claimed, have not been invented, cannot be arrived at individually and are not authored. Paradigm shifts are states of contemporary recognition or of reconnecting with radical historical moments as indicators of permission and possibility.
2. Advanced Practices reframe urgencies. Questioning who defines what an urgency is? Insisting that urgenciesare not priorities, they are rather an aggregate of conditions that demand a response. Thus we recognize that Advanced Practices make urgencies visible and provide alternative frameworks to know them. Advance Practices counter the hegemonic employment of urgencies that serve to normalize or suppress them as legible subject matter. They think through situated and locatable urgencies and how these are linked to opening up western conditions to world conditions and vice versa.
3. Advanced Practices invent methodologies. Pose questions as to the recognition of a moment of methodological invention. They articulate who commissioned the research or whether it is a project of self commissioning. They recognize that the choice of subject is never value free and that we invent our own subjects, enumerating emergent modes such as fictioning, queering, inventing vocabularies, ex-centric forms of verification and of information collecting, the invention of archives or their mis-reading.
4. Advanced Practices stage new relations between knowledges. Departing from the older model of ‘interdisciplinarity’ to more contemporary notions of ‘singularisation’: the coming together in time and space of different situated knowledges in specific and uncategorizable alliances. Advanced Practices recognize a multiplicity of knowledges in simultaneous play: Tacit, implicit, bodily, intellectual, all subject to a form of valorization that deliver them back into specific economies. Emergent regimes of digitalization and of algorithmic control have produced access and availability as well as new regimes of research. Shifting base lines that reject notion of ‘normal’ of ‘tradition’, of ‘individuality’ – the necessary emergence of a collaborative model.
5. Advanced Practices exceed expectations. Moving on from the neoliberal understanding of exceeding expectations as having greater impact and forging new markets, Advanced Practicesdismiss the assumed relation between a threshold and a research project, learning to mutualize the dynamics of expectations. They thematize and include trust as a research value, to recognize affection and mutuality as drives and to enfold notions of failure within expectations. Developing models that bypass the evaluation of concluding findings, Advanced Practices emphasize both the unexpected encounters and the ability to pose questions from elsewhere, that are the value of research. Part of exceeding expectations is defying capitalist notions of reaching previously unrecognized subjects and markets, in favor of recognizing how ideas constitute new audiences and communities.
On the Operations of Advanced Practices
Here the emphasis on ‘operating’ is aimed at eschewing prescription but rather thinking practices as a series of dynamic set-ups.
1. Advanced Practices perform a fluency of movement within and without institutions around research groups that share urgencies, experiences and methodologies. Beyond examining a problem from multiple perspectives they recognize the interests and values that underwrite the perspectives and push towards dialogue between such.
2. Advanced Practices reconceptualize encounters around knowledge, institutional, informal and public. Advanced Practices work towards producing as many ‘events of knowledge’ as possible seeing these as the generative moments in which a conjunction of knowledges, insights and new points of entry occur.
3. Advanced Practices recognize and insist that collaboration, collectivity and the methodologies only these can offer, be recognized through funding streams and evaluative mechanisms. Advanced Practices have the capacity to differentiate between seamlessly accumulating and circulating knowledge (as in network formation) and the instances of burgeoning recognition that knowledge and insight are part of a shared dramaturgy.
4. Advanced Practices re-narrate knowledge by replacing static outcomes with dynamic propositions. In putting forward relational, interstitial, collectivized knowledge whose movements operate like molecular chains that form and reform.
5. Advanced Practices embed discovery, innovation or breakthrough within deeply layered socialities.
To our Friends
The European Forum for Advanced Practices wishes to recognize and address seriously the audiences and public domains for the work of Advanced Practices. Realizing that Advanced Practices are often taking place within unrecognized or illegible environments, and that in those instances these may be mistaken as representations of experience rather than challenges to knowledge.
We underline the potentially inclusive nature of this work beyond the academy. Advanced Practices offer the possibility of examining issues from multiple, often oblique, vantage points and articulating these in a range of languages. As we consider ‘value’ as something that is established contextually (and operates collectively) we seek, through Advanced Practices to establish alternative models of research evaluation that understand this contextual aspect of value. Such contingency and collectivity in the field of knowledge means that Advanced Practices assume, address and require multiple audiences and ready movement between different groups.
The drive of the European Forum for Advanced Practices is to put forward a public discussion on the possibility of changing our understanding of value, a discussion currently rife with contradictions.
The EFAP White Paper on Advanced Practices sets sets out to argue the necessity to bypass the capture of work that is inventive. It poses a fundamental question of whether the immeasurable and measurable can inhabit a single argument.
We hope to develop the capacities to recognize value anew. We argue for its fundamentally relational quality and its dependence on community beyond knowledge.
We propose to develop the Infrastructures that might allow such alternative value the time and funding to grow.
We demand greater Open access, for sharing not just the outcomes but also the often incoherent processes of the research itself.
We oppose the functionalization of practice and refute the centrality of application or replication.
We aspire to a re-narration of value that can be fractal, rhythmic, incoherent or sequential. We desire the ability to repeatedly tell the story of value differently.