The a.pass program and research centre are positioned within a larger context of the arts and education, and develops its working out of a questioning of the current organization of artistic and educational (institutional) practices. In its trajectory, a.pass has on all levels of its organization critically reflected upon the economy of knowledge as it is being employed today in higher education and the media, the logics of the arts market, the recuperation of institutional critique by the institutions themselves, the capitalist drive for the new, the seductive and the quickly consumable, and the role and responsibility of the artist researcher in all of this.
In a.pass the relevance of the research is measured by the degree in which researchers, out of their different backgrounds and knowledge horizons, manage to formulate innovative perspectives on potential knowledge production, as well as on the development of tools to share and experiment this knowledge on the public scene. It is clear that this kind of research environment also resonates with other institutions for art education on an (inter)national scale. Artistic research in a.pass can be seen as a third way, wedged in between the artistic practice as such and the more academic understanding of knowledge production. Different from the artistic practice the research is not limited to the individual trajectory, the personal questioning and aesthetics of the artist. But at the same time the artistic practice does take on a central role in the development of new perspectives and methodologies, a way of working that relates to, but doesn’t coincide with, and even explicitly questions an academic AND an artistic framework. Artistic research in a.pass is not limited to the development of arts-practice-related knowledge, but also involves the creation and testing of formats, methodologies, communication strategies and shared practices, ‘tools for collaboration and communication’, that broaden up the understanding of artistic research from an art work with paper validation form to a more critical investigation into the statute, the circulation and the valuation of divergent forms of knowledge.
This means that a.pass is an environment that reflects and practices knowledge and artistic strategies with the windows open to an outside reality. In that sense a.pass is not so much a preparation for the ‘professional life’, as it is a putting-into-question of what these professional sectors (both the artistic and educational organizations of institutes, values and work) are symptoms of. Throughout the years, a.pass has used its own institutional status - and the opportunities offered by being an artistic educational program embedded in a larger network of schools, art centres, research places, workspaces, etc… - to seriously reconsider its role, and the role of the artist researchers within the current ethical, political, economic and social context of knowledge production and sharing.
On the level of ethics this means that we consider both the institute as the institute’s participants to be part of a larger network of relations, that give them their value and meaning. In a.pass the relation between the ‘I’ of the researcher and the provisional construction of the ‘We’ of the research practice within the institute, is a recurring, and politically charged, topic. The institute here is considered as an experimental playground to try out strategies for the now and the future within a larger society. a.pass gives a lot of attention to the transindividual character of practice and knowledge, and how the collective environment can be both a source of frustration and feedback, as of nourishment and challenge to the individual researcher’s trajectory. Also, a.pass in that sense always takes the ‘ethical’ concreteness, the situational reality of research seriously: artistic research is always already embedded in the relations that produce it, and these relations encompass elements of discourse, social and economic factors and spatial settings, as well as institutional givens, societal demands and resources at hand. Therefore an artistic research strategy or outcome is not transparently reproducible without changing in the process. The ethical (here understood as relational and situational) character of the research, makes it resistant to commodification on a larger scale. But this doesn’t mean that the research can not be communicated or shared, using strategies that differ from the promise of serial reproduction.
This interest in the transindividual character of learning and research, however, does not exclude a strong focus and interest in the development of the individual’s trajectories. Since the institute can not function without the invested interest and contributions to the common environment of the researchers, a.pass strives towards creating an environment in which the aesthetic and artistic idiosyncratic qualities of each practice can be challenged into being. a.pass considers the artist researcher in the year of participation not so much as an artist-producer of work, but as an artist-researcher, reflecting self-critically on the trajectory already accomplished, and reconsidering the notions of work, value, the market, responsiveness and responsibility through the practicing of the research. a.pass encourages the exploration of ‘risky’ practices that do not directly correspond to the current demands of the arts market or academic understandings of research, in order to create an experimental environment in which certainties can be subverted, undermined, or simply reappraised from another point of view.