Militante Untersuchung als artistic research?

Lecture by Pascal Jurt
June 18th, 2013

One repeatedly encounters the concept of »militant research« in the most various contexts like the social movements in Argentina, job centres in Berlin-Neukölln, May Day marches, leftist anthologies, and, since a decade, in the field of art and theory production, as well. This concept arose not only in the context of the broad reception of (post-)Operaism, but recently also in the wake of the debates on »artistic research« and it poses questions as to the topicality of the production process in the academic world and in the field of art. The knowledge of the »con-ricerca« (joint-research), a concept that appeared in Italy in the post-war years and was used by marxist and socialist party dissidents in the wake of Operaism, is, however, largely submerged. The decisive factor is that in these examinations the participating and politically intervening position is to be connected to the theoretical analysis.

The demarcation from classical, academic research can also offer important impulses for artists and cultural scholars: Questions regarding the composition of the location one is active in, the fragmentation of the social sphere, political attitudes, and the possibility of autonomous (self-)organisation are at the centre of »militant research«. The confrontation of many insights and similar methodological approaches by Marx (e.g., the »questionnaire for workers«) with the strongly altered living and working conditions of factory workers is of interest today, as well, to the practices and articulations of cognitive proletarians.

Even if it might not be possible to elucidate the significance of the concept for a contemporary critique of present-day capitalism, the question does arise as to whether artistic research can be a »militant research«, as Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann had put up for debate on the occasion of the project »ExArgentina«, for example.

Pascal Jurt (Berlin/Wien) is a sociologist and is lecturing on militant research and Speculative Realism at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Currently he is researching on the representation of labor disputes in motion pictures. As author he writes on art and culture for a.o. Springerin, Missy, Spex, Konkret and Jungle World.