Negotiation-as-active-knowing: an approach evolved from relational practice.
Chu, Chu Yuan
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CHU, C.Y. 2013. Negotiation-as-active-knowing: an approach evolved from relational art practice. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
This PhD research offers a new conception of negotiation that attempts to re-imagine the roles of and relationships between artist and participant-other in social art practice. Negotiation is implicit in art practice, and is often used without elucidation of its exact processes. This research addresses the gap through an articulation of negotiation that brings both artist and other to new positions of understanding. The resulting construct, negotiationas- active knowing, becomes a mode of knowing the world, others and otherness and distinguishes itself from more goal orientated definitions. The research draws on phenomenology and social art theory: Merleau-Ponty (2002) positions the perceiving body-subject as immersed and mobile within an environment. Shotter (2005) differentiates between ‘aboutness-thinking’ and ‘withness-thinking’. Kester (2011) describes the dynamic between the one and the many in the reciprocal creative labour of collaborative art practice. This literature yields three core qualities that are relevant to negotiation-as- active-knowing: durational immersive involvement, relational responsiveness and calibrative interplay. The research maps these qualities onto the domains of ‘ground’ (context), ‘contact’ (encounter) and ‘movement’ (art work/ process), that are drawn from the researcher’s experiences in social engagement for over 15 years. Negotiation-as -active-learning is tested through three case projects: Networking and Collaborations in Culture and the Arts (NICA), Burma 2002-2007; Galway Travellers Project, Republic of Ireland 2009-2010; and Imagining Possibilities/Thinking Together, Mongolia 2009-2011. Each project inflects and develops the conceptual framework; initially as a critical concept used retrospectively and increasingly as a generative concept that forms the dynamic of the work. The research concludes that the three core qualities of negotiation-as-active-knowing are intertwined and mutually supportive and cannot be practised in isolation of one another. Negotiation-as-active-knowing may potentially be effective both within the arts and more widely, in social, cultural life, in dealing with difference, or to possibly pre-empt conflict.