From my current curatorial practices that emphasize non-visual and sensory exhibitions to my master’s research on direct experience, an embodied approach to practicing art, my research-practice over the last ten years has explored sensory perception within the arts.
My practice-led master’s research dealt with collective-intervention art practices by exploring the boundaries between art and everyday life. In my master’s thesis I thus investigated the relation between the experience of art and the roles of artwork and author. I was particularly interested in attempting to reduce the gap between artist, artwork, and observer by developing and enunciating direct experience as an approach to creative practice.
By creating three experimental situations for physical and social engagement, I explored the influence of spatial qualities and affects of participative interaction on my artistic processes. A critical analysis of these projects led me to identify the approach of direct experience, which is a lived act that touches the body in its totality: mind and body. It is inspired by research in the field of cognitive science on embodied reflection (Francisco J. Varela, Eleanor Rosch and Evan Thompson, The Embodied Mind, 1993). In this regard, I drew a connection between the problem of the separation of body and mind, the field of scientific research, which Varela describes as being “abstract attitude” (Varela, The Embodied Mind, p. 25) and the field of artistic practice. By doing so, I defined the term abstract thinking as a way of thinking which favors the “isolation” of mind and body (John Dewey, Art as Experience, 1934). As a result, abstract thinking is a possible root to the separation of body and mind because it contributes to the building of an insurmountable distance between artist, artwork and observer.
Moreover, in my master’s research, I critically reflected on the framework of intervention art practices as being situated within the context of art or outside of it. I was further interested in the theoretical discourse around the method of direct experience related to other contemporary artist’s practices. I contrasted the creative approach of working from within an abstract attitude (which I consider to be based on the implementation of preliminarily-conceived concepts) with the approach of direct experience. By doing so, I show how the latter transforms the spectator’s experience of art. In particular direct experience holds the potential to dissolve the boundaries between artist and spectator because the sharing of direct experiences itself then becomes the artwork.
Since the completion of my M.A. degree, I have continued my research on the experience of art and embodiment in developing site-specific interventions (e.g. Hotel California, The Hague, 2010). Since then, my research and practice has revolved around sensory perception. In Internal Earthquake, for instance, I developed a tactile sound installation that took place in Berlin, 2014. In addition to my artistic practice, I have been developing curatorial projects that foster discussions on art practices, presentation formats and interdisciplinary collaborations (e.g. Think Tank, Montreal, 2007; Think&Action Tank, Berlin, since 2014) and which focus on the exploration of sensory experience. In this regard, I co-curated the site- specific non-visual exhibition The Ability to Fail in Public (Berlin, 2014) with Kat F Austen.
Between 2011 and 2013, I gathered professional experience working for the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal) by co-conceptualizing, organizing and leading educational programs in conjunction with exhibitions. I was working at the interface of curatorial and educational programs, and as a mediator between the displayed exhibitions and the public. This interdisciplinary position allowed me on one hand to gather meaningful insights in the public reception of architectural exhibitions, and on the other to develop an understanding of the organizational structure, knowledge production practices, and display conventions of an internationally renowned architectural institution.